US judge sentences Guatemalan to 8 months in FIFA scandal
A 63-year-old former Guatemalan football official was handed an eight-month jail term Wednesday, the first person sentenced by a US judge over a massive corruption scandal that rocked world soccer two years ago.
The US investigation, first unveiled in May 2015, has seen federal prosecutors in New York indict around 40 football and sports marketing executives with allegedly receiving tens of millions of bribes and kickbacks.
Like many of the indicted, Hector Trujillo cut a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy in a US federal court in Brooklyn four months ago.
On Wednesday, Judge Pamela Chen ruled that Trujillo, the former general secretary of Guatemala's Football Federation from 2009 to 2015 and ex-judge on the country's constitutional court, will start his sentence November 20 in Florida.
Trujillo walked into the courthouse dressed in a dark suit, stripey tie and pale blue shirt, and wearing sunglasses despite the overcast October skies.
US prosecutors had recommended a minimum sentence of just over three years and for Trujillo to pay back $415,000 to the Guatemalan soccer federation.
Chen said Trujillo would have to foot the $415,000 bill with his co-defendants.
They had disputed a claim from Trujillo's lawyers that he has already endured "sufficient punishment" due to a month in custody before his release on bail, his bail conditions and the expected damage to his professional life.
The formerly successful lawyer was arrested on December 4, 2015 while on a family cruise in Florida and initially pleaded not guilty to eight charges against him.
Prosecutors say he and other officials accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from a Miami-based sports marketing company in exchange for media and marketing rights to Guatemala's World Cup qualifier matches.
In January 2016, he posted a $4 million bond, surrendering his passport and submitting to electronic monitoring. He has been living on bail in Florida.
The US corruption investigation precipitated the downfall of longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his former heir apparent, Michel Platini.
Many of those indicted agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for possible leniency.
Three Latin American defendants who have continued to plead not guilty in connection with the largest corruption scandal in the history of soccer are due to go on trial in a US federal court in Brooklyn on November 6.