Ex-judge is first to be sentenced in FIFA scandal

Fifa.(Getty Images)
Fifa.(Getty Images)

New York - A former judge who led Guatemala's soccer federation is set to be the first person sentenced in the US in the world soccer scandal.

Hector Trujillo, 63, is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy in June.

Trujillo admitted to accepting nearly $200 000 in bribes from a company trying to secure sports marketing contracts. 

Prosecutors say the former general secretary of Guatemala's soccer federation should serve more than three years in prison and pay $415 000 in restitution. Defence lawyers are asking for no prison time for crimes between 2009 and 2016. 

According to his plea agreement, he will not contest any sentence less than four years and nine months in prison. Trujillo also has 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 minimises the seriousness of his crime by noting that 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. And that corrupt conduct requires a significant sentence," prosecutors wrote. 

Defence lawyers wrote asking 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 US 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 organisation of regional tournaments and World Cup qualifying games. 

Prosecutors in Switzerland also have been investigating. FIFA also has conducted internal investigations of corruption and self-dealing.

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