Lei Zhengfu, a portly, pop-eyed ex-secretary of a region in southwestern China’s Chongqing, was caught on video having sex with an 18-year-old mistress, with the clip ricocheting around China’s gossip-obsessed Internet when it surfaced last November.
The encounter turned out to be a sting operation by a property developer hoping to blackmail Lei, 55, into favorable commercial decisions, Chinese media reported.
When blackmailed with the sex video, Lei asked another property developer who had benefited from his patronage to pay hush money of 3.1million yuan.
Lei was fired, then charged last month with corruption, which carries a maximum penalty of death.
Lei argued that the money was a loan, but prosecutors said the money – which was not fully repaid – amounted to a bribe.
His punishment also includes confiscation of personal assets of 300,000 yuan ($48,000).
Lei did not say whether he would appeal the verdict by the city’s No. 1 Intermediate Court, according to state media.
Lei’s case has riveted the public since video clips went viral of the portly, pop-eyed 55-year-old having sex with an 18-year-old mistress hired by property developers, allegedly in an elaborate extortion scheme.
As more lurid details emerged, the scandal has exposed the shady intertwining of sex, money and power.
The sex extortion scheme has ensnared at least 20 other party cadres, but Lei appears to have been singled out – partly because he has been especially vulnerable to public derision.
Lei’s receding hairline, pop eyes, bushy eyebrows and wide jowls provided a caricature for public corruption and moral degradation widely detested by the public.