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Ex-judge 1st sentenced in US in FIFA scandal, gets 8 months
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The first person sentenced in the U.S. in the FIFA world soccer corruption scandal has gotten eight months in prison. Hector Trujillo is a former judge who led Guatemala’s soccer federation and appeared before a federal judge in New York on Wednesday. He was arrested in Florida in 2015 and pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy in June, admitting he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a company trying to secure sports marketing contracts.
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
NEW YORK (AP) — A former judge who led Guatemala’s soccer federation has become the first person sentenced in the U.S. in the FIFA world soccer corruption scandal, getting eight months in prison.
Hector Trujillo, 63, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn. He had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy in June.
Trujillo admitted accepting nearly $200,000 in bribes from a company trying to secure sports marketing contracts.
Prosecutors said the former general secretary of Guatemala’s soccer federation should serve more than three years in prison and pay $415,000 in restitution. Defense lawyers asked for no prison time for crimes between 2009 and 2016.
According to Trujillo’s plea agreement, he would not contest any sentence less than four years and nine months in prison. Trujillo also agreed to forfeit $175,000. Free on $4 million bail, he has been staying in Miami.
He was arrested in December 2015 in Port Canaveral, Florida, during a Disney cruise with his family.
Prosecutors said in pre-sentence papers that Trujillo minimized the seriousness of his crime by noting he did not violate the laws of Guatemala, even as he indisputably broke FIFA rules.
“While the defendant may not have played the largest role or pocketed the most money of all of the defendants in the case, his conduct nevertheless shows that he engaged in the same type of conduct as the rest of the corrupt soccer officials who have been charged,” prosecutors wrote. “And that corrupt conduct requires a significant sentence.”
Defense lawyers had asked for leniency, saying the prosecution had ended Trujillo’s “successful and prominent career and tarnished his spotless reputation as a respected jurist and advocate.” They said his arrest had forced him to resign from his position as an alternate judge on Guatemala’s constitutional court.
They also cited debilitating back and hip pain that worsened during several weeks of incarceration after his arrest and his subsequent home confinement.
The U.S. investigation of corruption linked to FIFA has resulted in indictments or guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to soccer in the Americas since 2015. Many of the charges involve bribes paid around the organization of regional tournaments and World Cup qualifying games.
Prosecutors in Switzerland also have been investigating. FIFA has conducted internal investigations of corruption and self-dealing.