NEW YORK: Hector Trujillo has been sentenced to eight months in jail in the United States after becoming the first person sentenced in the FIFAGate corruption case writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Guatemala, a former judge and senior executive in his country’s football federation, had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy. He had admitted accepting almost $200,000 in bribes from a sports marketing company and had already agreed to forfeit $495,000.
Prosecutors said the former general secretary of Guatemala’s football federation should serve more than three years in prison and pay $415,000 in restitution. Defence lawyers asked for no prison time for crimes between 2009 and 2016.
According to Trujillo’s plea agreement, he would not contest any sentence of less than four years and nine months in prison. Trujillo also agreed to forfeit a further $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.
The original statement from the US Department of Justice on the charges facing Trujillo, said:
“Starting in approximately 2008 and acting variously on behalf of multiple sports marketing companies and his own soccer business, Trujillo paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to high-ranking officials of FIFA, CONCACAF, and four soccer federations in Central America and the Caribbean in furtherance of multiple schemes involving media and marketing contracts and international friendly matches.”
Prosecutors also stated in pre-sentence papers that Trujillo minimised the seriousness of his crime by saying he did not violate the laws of Guatemala, even though he had broken FIFA rules.
They added: “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 football officials who have been charged and that corrupt conduct requires a significant sentence.”
Trujillo’s defence lawyers, in a plea for leniency, said the case had ended Trujillo’s “successful and prominent career and tarnished his spotless reputation as a respected jurist and advocate.” He had resigned from his position as an alternate judge on Guatemala’s constitutional court.
The US investigation was first revealed in May 2015 and has seen federal prosecutors in New York indict more than 40 sports and commercial executives linked to football in the Americas.
Several are still contesting extradition from their home countries. These include Paraguayan Nicolas Leoz, long-time former head of South American confederation CONMEBOL, as well as Jack Warner, Trinidad & Tobago’s former president of central and north American body CONCACAF.
Both Leoz and Warner are former vice-presidents of world football federation FIFA.
The next individual due to be sentenced is British passport holder Costas Takkas, former aide to Jeffrey Webb, another ex-CONCACAF president. Takkas is scheduled for sentence next Tuesday.