Associated Press
Sicily's governor Salvatore Cuffaro, right, is hugged by his lawyer Marcello Montalbano in a Palermo's court, after the reading of the sentence that convicted him to 5 years in prison and banned him from holding public office.

ROME (AP) — Sicily's governor resigned on Saturday, a week after he was convicted of providing information that helped a Mafia boss.

Salvatore Cuffaro, who had initially refused to step down pending the appeals process, told the island's regional assembly that his decision to leave office was "irrevocable."

A court in Palermo sentenced Cuffaro on Jan. 18 to five years in prison after convicting him of "aiding and abetting" by helping a mob boss. Prosecutors said the politician learned from a former police officer in 2001 that the home of a convicted Palermo Mafia boss had been bugged by investigators, and told a doctor who knew the boss about the hidden microphones. The doctor informed the mobster, a revelation that ruined the police investigation, prosecutors said.

The governor has insisted he never did anything to help the Mafia.

Cuffaro is from a small, pro-Vatican party that is a political ally of conservative opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Since Italy's judicial system allows for two appeals, Cuffaro had announced that he would stay in office until the end of the appeals process, which could take years.

He was criticized for initially refusing to leave office. Many, including some politicians from allied parties, were angry that he celebrated not being convicted of a more serious accusation—helping the Mafia as an organization. A widely published photo of him offering his aides a tray of cannoli pastries to celebrate fueled the outrage.

The head of Italy's politically influential industrial lobby, Confindustria, lamented Friday that Cuffaro remained in office while Sicilian businessmen were defying the Mafia by increasingly refusing to pay systematic "protection" money.

Two years ago, while the trial was under way, Cuffaro was re-elected as governor, defeating the sister of a slain anti-Mafia prosecutor.

Italy is waiting to learn if it will have new national elections after Romano Prodi's resignation as premier on Thursday. Cuffaro's party could run nationwide as an important member of Berlusconi's center-right alliance.

Cuffaro's brother, Silvio, who is mayor of a small Sicilian town, said the governor was "very serene" after quitting and now would have more time to dedicate to his family, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. "Now would really be the time to celebrate with cannoli," Silvio Cuffaro was quoted as saying.