Former House of Representatives member Joji Yamamoto has dropped his appeal against a fraud conviction for the misuse of public funds, his lawyers said Wednesday.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced the former Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker in February to 18 months in prison for pocketing 25.5 million yen in salary from the national coffers to pay a fictitious secretary from November 1996 to September 1999.

The court ruled that Yamamoto, 38, submitted false reports about assigning the secretary to the Lower House secretariat.

Yamamoto falsely reported donations totaling 9 million yen between 1996 and 1999 to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government election committee in an attempt to cover up part of the 25.5 million yen, the court said.

Yamamoto betrayed the public’s trust by taking advantage of his status and credibility as a Diet member, the court said, adding he deserves a prison sentence even though he resigned from the Diet and made a swift and complete compensatory payment.

Although Yamamoto, who admitted to all charges, said he would comply with the ruling when the lower court trial ended, his lawyers appealed to the Tokyo High Court the same day.

Prosecutors, who had demanded two years and six months in prison, did not appeal the district court ruling.

Elected from Tokyo constituency No. 21 in 1996, Yamamoto was re-elected last June, but quit as a lawmaker after his arrest in September.

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