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Fifagate: first conviction, 8 months in jail for a Guatemalan

Ⓒ AFP – DON EMMERT – | Hector Trujillo Leaves Brooklyn Federal Court After Conviction, October 25, 2017 in New York

A former Guatemalan football federation leader who pleaded guilty to bribery in the Fifa corruption scandal was sentenced Wednesday by a New York federal judge to eight months in prison sentence pronounced in this case.

Hector Trujillo, 64 (age 64), who was General Secretary of the Federation of Guatemala from 2009 to 2015, is expected to begin serving his sentence on November 20 in Florida, where he was previously on bail. He welcomed the sentence head down, drying his tears.

This is the first sentence set by Judge Pamela Chen, who officiates in Brooklyn on the whole file Fifa in the United States. Forty people in total have been implicated in this scandal that came to light in May 2015, causing the world football to falter and pushing former FIFA president Sepp Blatter to leave.

Only three people pleaded not guilty. Their trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 6 in New York and is expected to last several weeks.

Arrested in December 2015 while on a cruise in Florida, briefly imprisoned before being released on bail, Mr. Trujillo pleaded guilty last June.

He then admitted to having accepted, along with other officials, some $ 400,000 in bribes from Miami-based media-based sports marketing company Media World in exchange for media and marketing rights over home games Guatemalan team for qualifying at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The bribes were paid over several years by Media World, transiting through US banks before Mr. Trujillo receives his share in an account in Guatemala, according to the prosecutor.

As part of the agreement with the prosecutor, Mr. Trujillo convicted himself of bank fraud and bribery, two of the eight charges originally filed against him, with the hope that it is worth a certain leniency, as is generally the case with such agreements in the United States.

– ‘I was blind’ –

Ⓒ AFP – Don EMMERT – | Hector Trujillo, right, arrives at the Federal Court of Justice in Brooklyn, New York, October 25, 2017

The prosecution had argued for a much heavier sentence, demanding a minimum sentence of just over three years (41 months) in prison.

But Mr. Trujillo, a former lawyer who was a judge of the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, implored the magistrate to have pity on him, invoking in turn his sick mother, his pregnant daughter and his granddaughter of five. years in hospital. And assuring to have been an honest person for 60 years, with the exception of a moment of weakness.

“What happened? Why did I accept this money?” He asked in a long tirade on Wednesday. “Looking back, I think I was blind (…) I thought it was different from the corruption I had fought for years (…) it was easy to see it as a reward for the work and efforts I had made as Secretary General, “he explained, dressed in suit and tie.

Chen J. noted that she had taken into account the age of the convict – who was sitting in court on his cane – his poor state of health, and his near-residence in Florida for almost two years.

Nevertheless, she criticized Mr. Trujillo for “stealing” the organization he claimed to help and betrayed the trust of the citizens of his country.

“I’m sure you knew it was wrong (…) You’ve somehow destroyed your country, football is the national passion, a patriotic quest,” she added.

She also ordered him to pay the Guatemalan federation some $ 415,000, corresponding to the amount of money she was injured by the bribes accepted by Trujillo and two other defendants, Brayan Jimenez and Rafael Salgueiro.

Hector Trujillo will also have to pay $ 175,000 to the US government for his guilty plea. He should be sent back to Guatemala on his release.

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