Li Qinghong, a former political advisor in Southwest China's Guizhou Province, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges including organizing and leading a gang on Monday.
After a month-long trial, the People's Court in Xiaohe District in Guiyang, capital city of Guizhou Province, passed its sentence on Monday.
It said the 38-year-old businessman and some 20 other men established an illegal gang in 1999, and Li was the gang leader. Using the organization as a stronghold, these men bullied and oppressed the masses, gathered crowds for fighting and gambling, and provided protection for Li's mining industry in organized crime, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Li was also fined 100,000 yuan ($15,700) by the court for organizing and leading the gang, in addition to three other charges.
His brother Li Meng was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison, and his father Li Chonggang was released upon acquittal.
Zhou Ze, Li's lawyer, told the Global Times on Monday that he could not accept the result of the trial and was planning to lodge an appeal to the Guiyang City Intermediate People's Court.
"The verdict is totally wrong," said Zhou. "Li should be released upon acquittal."
According to Zhou, an organization should have four traits to be defined as a gang, but the court did not provide any solid evidence to prove the existence of those traits in Li's case.
"Li is just an entrepreneur who hasn't committed any crime. He doesn't even know some of the so-called gangsters who the court claimed were under his leadership," said Zhou.
A total of 88 lawyers and legal experts formed an advisory panel to defend Li.
Yang Jinzhu, one of Li's lawyers, said earlier this month on his blog that the case had become a significant one, and is related to the disputes over anti-gang lawsuits and the protection of private enterprises.
A former deputy to the People's Congress in Guiyang and a member of the 10th Guizhou Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, Li was arrested on September 10, 2008 for gambling.
In March 2010, Li was sentenced to 19 years in prison by the Guiyang City Intermediate People's Court for organizing and leading a gang. But the case was later delivered to the court in Xiaohe District for a retrial.
Born in a village in Guizhou in 1974, Li became an entrepreneur worth over 100 million yuan after years of striving.
According to the Southern Metropolis Daily, his father Li Chonggang bought a mine for 680,000 yuan in 2002, which he and Li managed together. Three years later, Li established an investment and development company and his wealth started to increase rapidly.
According to media reports, Li used to be seen as a philanthropist by the local people for funding poverty-stricken students.