De la Rua, who ruled from 1999 to 2001, could face up to 10 years in prison in part for putting a gardener on the government payroll to do extra landscaping.

The court ordered on Wednesday that 220,000 pesos ($74,000) of the former leader's assets be frozen.

"It has been proved that the services rendered were used not only to benefit his political party but also himself," the judicial order read.

If he appeals the ruling, the case could go as high as the supreme court.

De la Rua is infamous in Argentina for fleeing the presidential palace by helicopter when an economic crisis sparked social protests and looting in December 2001.

Since then, he has rarely made public appearances.