Isabel Pantoja Takes 4-Day Leave 6 Months Into Her Prison Sentence
Spanish diva allowed reprieve for money laundering sentence.
Spanish diva Isabel Pantoja is on a four-day break from prison, six months after she received a two-year sentence for her involvement in a money laundering scheme.
Pantoja, one of Spain’s best known performers and a pop culture icon, walked out of the Alcalá de Guadaíra jail near Seville on Monday (June 1). Recalling scenes from Orange is the New Black, she smiled and blew kisses to fellow inmates who remained inside the gates, according to Spanish press reports. She also greeted fans who had gathered outside the prison to meet her.
Pantoja was accompanied by her brother, who reportedly drove her to her 500-acre estate, Cantora, to spend time with her extended family. The singer was allowed the four-day leave from prison for good conduct. According to press reports, she has adapted well to life with the other inmates and has participated in “numerous activities” while in captivity.
The Spanish star, who has sold more than 6 million albums over her career and whose net worth is reportedly 10 million euros, was sentenced Nov. 4, 2014 after a years-long investigation. In addition to the jail term, she is to pay 1.1 million euros.
A judge called Pantoja's crime "one of the most demolishing attacks that can be infringed on a democratic society." The court acknowledged it was making an example of Pantoja at a time of rampant corruption in Spain by public figures.
The singer's troubles stem from her romantic relationship with Julian Muñoz, the former mayor of Marbella, the oceanfront Southern Spanish city long known as a hot spot for the rich. A state court in nearby Malaga convicted Pantoja of helping Muñoz launder funds he embezzled from Marbella government coffers while serving as mayor. Muñoz is currently serving a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence. His ex-wife, Maite Zaldivar, was also convicted.
The raven-haired Pantoja, now 58 years old, has recorded over 30 albums. A native of Triana, a Seville neighborhood that breeds flamenco artists, Pantoja first danced in a flamenco show at age 7, and launched her successful singing career when still in her teens. Pantoja's notoriety increased with her 1983 marriage to Francisco Rivera "Paquirri," a star bullfighter. When Paquirri was killed in the ring in 1984, the glamorous Pantoja became known as "the widow of Spain."
The dramas of Pantoja's personal life have been constantly tracked by gossip magazines, from whom Spanish media says she has earned considerable income over the years, including a payoff of 800,000 euros for one recent magazine exclusive.
The singer canceled a series of scheduled concerts in Spain after her conviction.
She has reportedly received thousands of letters of support from fans since arriving at the prison.