NEW YORK, Oct 25, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – A 63-year-old former Guatemalan football official is expected Wednesday to become the first person sentenced by a US judge over the sweeping corruption scandal that rocked world soccer.
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.
He served as general secretary of Guatemala’s Football Federation from 2009 to 2015 and also was a judge on the country’s constitutional court.
US prosecutors are seeking a minimum sentence of just over three years and for Trujillo to pay back $415,000 to the Guatemalan soccer federation, when Judge Pamela Chen opens the hearing at a Brooklyn federal court at 2:30 pm (1830 GMT).
They dispute 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.
Prosecutors also dispute claims that he should be treated leniently owing to “poor health,” saying that many defendants of similar age are treated in prison.
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.
US 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.