'Bribed' ex-Berlusconi Senator agrees to plea bargain

'Accepted millions from ex-premier to tank Prodi govt'

'Bribed' ex-Berlusconi Senator agrees to plea bargain

Naples, June 27 - A former Senator accused of taking bribes from ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi to switch parties and force a government to fall agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors on Thursday. Sergio De Gregorio accepted a suspended sentence of one year and eight months in prison, which judges are expected to approve. De Gregorio defected from the centre-left during Romano Prodi's 2006-2008 government and eventually joined Berlusconi's party. Berlusconi allegedly paid the turncoat three million euros to switch to the centre-right. The Prodi government fell in 2008 after losing the support of the Senate, leading to new elections that Berlusconi won. De Gregorio originally admitted to receiving two million euros from Berlusconi, which he did not declare for tax purposes, but denied that it was bribe money. Prosecutors in Naples want Berlusconi to stand trial in this case. The ex-premier was convicted in a separate case earlier this week of having sex with an underaged prostitute and abuse of office. Berlusconi has been hit on numerous fronts by legal woes, which he chalks up to left-wing magistrates who allegedly have it out for him for political reasons.

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