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“In short, Your Honor, he was a con-man.” But his lawyer, Flora Edwards, said there was nothing to suggest Follieri would flee even though his family lives in Italy.

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He said Follieri lost between $2.5 million and $6 million of investor money. District Court in Manhattan alleges that Follieri duped a partner into investing millions of dollars in a real estate scheme to buy properties at bargain prices from the Catholic church in the United States and redevelop them.

Pitman said Follieri must secure bail with $16 million in cash or property and must endure home detention, except for legal meetings, medical treatment or religious services. The partner, a private equity firm in California, was not identified in court papers.

Follieri often interrupted his lawyer during the hearing, speaking loudly and mugging for the audience, while claiming to have paid off some of the debts prosecutors said he owed.

“He obtained millions of dollars from investors and then he used that money to live the lifestyle of a multimillionaire,” Brodsky said.

Bail was set at $21 million for Raffaello Follieri, 29.

Federal prosecutors said they have "overwhelming" evidence that he improperly spent up to million from investors, much of it on a lavish lifestyle, including privately chartered jet travel with his girlfriend and others, expensive meals and clothing and a posh Manhattan apartment.

Follieri was charged with a dozen counts of wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

His lawyer, Flora Edwards, told The Associated Press, "We're going to move forward and hope for a speedy resolution to this matter." Outside court, she called the bail package one of the stiffest she had seen.

Follieri got millions of dollars in investment money from an unspecified private equity firm based on his misrepresentations, court papers said.

According to published reports, California supermarket mogul Ron Burkle has previously sued Follieri in Delaware for misusing money from a joint real estate venture involving buying and reselling properties owned by the Catholic Church.

No flight risk Edwards told the judge her client was no threat to flee just because he had access to millions of dollars and his family is in Italy.

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