Revised 22 May 2011
Note: The contents of this webpage have been reported on documentaries shown on BBC2 and CBS News in 1996 and 2006 respectively, with the relevant researchers having done on-the-spot research to validate the existence of the material concerned
Grateful Thanks to the Sub-Prefecture of St Julien-en-Genevois for providing information in 2004 and for the scanned letter written by the Mayor of Annemasse dating from 1956
While carrying out investigations during the late 1990s for a television documentary that partly involved the life of Pierre Plantard, a researcher came across a reference to Pierre Plantard having served 6 months in prison in 1953 over allegations relating to fraud, while sifting through the File containing the 1956 Priory of Sion Statutes and Registration Documents, in a letter dated 8 June 1956 written by the Mayor of Annemasse.
"...in our archives we have a note from the I.N.S.S.E dated 15 December 1954 advising us that Monsieur Pierre Plantard was sentenced on 17 December 1953 by the court in St. Julien-en-Genevois to six months imprisonment for a breach of trust under articles 406 and 408 of the Penal Code."
The sentence of the Court involved imprisonment and not a suspended sentence. The French would have read " a donné six mois de prison avec sursis..." had it been a suspended sentence.
Articles 406 and 408 of the old-style Penal Code correspond to Articles 314-1, 314-2 and 314-3 of the present Penal Code. These articles are classified in Book III of the Code, Crimes and offences against property theft, extortion, blackmail, fraud, and embezzlement. They are online here http://lexinter.net/Legislation2/abus_de_confiance.htm
Unfortunately the contents relating to Pierre Plantards criminal conviction in 1953 referred to in the letter written by the Mayor of Annemasse cannot be scanned or photocopied due to French Law.
Quoting from a letter by Serge Champanhet dated 22 March 2004, from the Sub-Prefecture of St Julien-en-Genevois:
"In conformity with article 2 of the Decree of 16 August 1901, only the statutes, declarations and any documents that advise modifications to the statutes and any changes in the administration or management of an association can be released to any person who requests it.
The letter you mention does not form a part of such documents, and I am therefore unable to send you a photocopy of it."
A further enquiry was made to the Sub Prefecture of St Julien-en-Genevois, with the following quote from the reply dated 20 April 2004 by Serge Champanhet:
"I am enclosing a copy of the letter of 8 June 1956 from the Mairie of Annemasse with the reference to Monsieur Plantard's criminal offences deleted (as these offences have been amnestied)."
So the letter written by the Mayor of Annemasse dated 8 June 1956 really exists, as well as its reference to Pierre Plantard having been sentenced to 6 months imprisonment at St Julien-en-Genevois in December 1953.
(with the paragraph containing the reference to Plantards 1953 sentencing deleted by the Sub Prefecture of St Julien)
It can therefore be established with certainty, due to this secondary reference made by the Mayor of Annemasse in 1956, that Pierre Plantard was sentenced to 6 months in prison in 1953 over allegations relating to fraud.
Pierre Plantard suffered a second prison sentence in 1956, but because there are no secondary references to this event, it cannot be verified with any certainty. However, French researcher Jean-Luc Chaumeil, whose Father was a Commissioner of French Police, does claim to possess copies of material that confirms such an imprisonment, but he is unable to make it public without breaking the French Defamation Law and finding himself imprisoned in the process!
Whilst making investigations for the same television documentary referred to above during the late 1990s, a researcher noted down what Chaumeil said in a telephone interview dated 21 November 1995:
Sympathisers of Pierre Plantard and believers in the Priory of Sion simply answer this by claiming the above conviction referred to his having an affair with a woman under the age of 21 and the age of consent in France in 1956 was 21.
Their source is a Pierre Plantard Circular dated 16 November 1983, quoting from its relevant part:
"We should also remember that in 1957, while still married to his former wife, he had a girlfriend aged 18 (the age of majority at that time being 21) and that her parents filed a complaint against him..."
However, this source happens to be from the pen of Pierre Plantard himself, made during a period of time when he was in the midst of a dispute with Jean-Luc Chaumeil, and also attributing the source of the Circular dated 16 November to Chaumeil himself.
Those who seriously believe that Plantards second term of imprisonment in 1956 was just over his relationship with a female under the age of 21, base their convictions on a Pierre Plantard Circular designed to defend the allegations that were made against him during the mid-1980s.