Marco K., a 44-year-old production manager, was convicted of 48 counts of fraud and accepting bribes by a court in the eastern German city of Erfurt. Judges handed him a milder sentence of five years and three months after taking into consideration his full confession and serious gambling addiction.
Prosecutors had demanded almost seven years in jail for costing Kika, which supplies content to ARD and ZDF, millions and seriously damaging trust in Germany's public broadcast system.
Judges found Marco K. paid bogus invoices to the now-insolvent Berlin production company Kopp Film. Allegedly half of around €4.62 million in Kika cash ended up in his pocket, but he reportedly blew at least €500,000 in one year on gambling vending machines.
Udo Reiter, the head of TV channel MDR, which is responsible for Kika, admitted earlier this year that there were serious flaws in the way the network monitored its accounting.
The bogus bills were so detailed and specific that an outsider who was not directly involved in production could not, without great difficultly, see that they were false, Reiter said.