Thomas Middelhoff, the former chief executive of Arcandor, then the holding company of Karstadt, the German department and sporting goods store chain, has been sent to prison for three years this morning. A court in Essen ruled that the 61-year-old was guilty in 44 cases of embezzlement and tax fraud. It was said that he unlawfully cost the company he ran some €800,000 for actions which were partly or entirely of private nature. This included, among other things, the use of lear jets and helicopters. While Middelhoff’s lawyers pleaded not guilty, the public attorney demanded three years and three months prison. Middelhoff was Arcandor’s chief executive shortly before the retail group filed for bankruptcy.