updated 07/02/2014 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/03/2014 AT 5:50 PM ET
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy already has a pretty colorful resume: She’s been a supermodel who dated Mick Jagger, a well-reviewed singer-songwriter and an actress who scored a cameo in Woody Allen’s 2011 film, Midnight in Paris. And, of course, the Italian-born renaissance woman has been the first lady of France.
It’s that last bit, her marriage to former president Nicolas Sarkozy, that now might land her the future title of Prison Wife.
Bruni-Sarkozy’s husband, who led France from 2007 to 2012, scowled at cameras outside the couple’s Paris home on Wednesday, after he was held by police late Tuesday for 15 hours of questioning that the New York Times called “an unprecedented indignity for a former French president.” He was then put under formal investigation, on charges of influence-peddling and abuse of power that carry prison terms.
French authorities allege that Sarkozy and his lawyer illegally tried to influence judicial proceedings, including an investigation into Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign financing, when his campaign was accused of accepting some $68 million in illegal funds from Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy, who has been planning a run for his UMP party’s leadership in September as prelude to a 2017 presidential bid, went on TF1 Wednesday night to decry the charges. “I’ve done nothing wrong,” he asserted.
Bruni-Sarkozy was not with her husband as he later stepped out to dinner at Paris’s Guilio Rebellato, where he worked the alfresco dinner crowd with handshakes and chitchat.
But her mother, Marisa Bruni-Tedeschi, sounded off to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, calling the investigation a conspiracy “to cut him off at the legs” as he’s preparing to run for office again. “Strange how this inquiry comes out now It is the moment that has been chosen which expresses a desire for vendetta,” she said. “We who are closest to him are outraged.”
Not to mention that an ill-timed trial or jail sentence could mean that Sarkozy might miss attending the wedding of his half brother, U.S.-based banker Olivier Sarkozy, who is engaged to actress-designer Mary-Kate Olsen.