Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in prison. Incredibly for a leader of a Group of Eight nation, this is not Mr. Berlusconi’s first conviction — he has been found guilty in three other unrelated trials — nor might it be his last: The media magnate and power broker is on trial separately on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute. (He proclaims his innocence on all charges.) And once again, courtesy of the peculiarities of the Italian legal system, Mr. Berlusconi is unlikely to serve his sentence. Whether he will resume his political career is much less settled, but history shows it is never wise to count Mr. Berlusconi out.

In this case, Mr. Berlusconi was charged with orchestrating a scheme a decade ago in which he used offshore companies to purchase the rights to American movies and then resold them to Mediaset, his media conglomerate, at high prices, both to avoid paying Italian taxes and to use the profits for a secret slush fund. The gains totaled about ?250 million, or some $320 million. Mr. Berlusconi was convicted, sentenced to four years in prison — which was instantly cut to one year because of a law aimed at reducing prison overcrowding — and banned from politics for five years. (All sentences are suspended pending appeals.) The other defendants, including a longtime business partner, were acquitted.

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