Sins of the Father

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MANNHEIM, Germany: Peter Graf was convicted Friday of evading taxes on the millions his daughter earned on the tennis court. Chief Judge Joachim Plass sentenced Graf to three years and nine months in prison. Joachim Eckardt, the former family tax adviser and a co-defendant in the trial, was sentenced to two years and six months as an accessory. Graf served as his daughter's manager and financial adviser from 1989 to 1993, during which the tennis player earned approximately $26 million. Chief prosecutor Hubert Jobski had accused Peter Graf of masterminding a "web of lies planned over a long time" to dupe tax authorities out of 20 million marks ($12 million) in taxes, including the use of mail-box companies in the Netherlands, Liechtenstein and the Dutch Antilles. Peter Graf has denied that his daughter, currently ranked No. 1 and the winner of 20 Grand Slam titles, had any involvement. Plass agreed, making a point of stating that Steffi, who never attended the 41/2-month trial, "played no active part" in the evasion. He recommended the investigation against her be dropped. Both defendants will remain free on bail pending appeal.