Fifa corruption scandal

Former Guatemalan judge pleads guilty in Fifa probe

Ex-general secretary of Guatemala’s football federation, Hector Trujillo, admits taking bribes from a company trying to secure sports marketing contracts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 10:56am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 10:56am

A former Guatemalan judge pleaded guilty on Friday to wire fraud and conspiracy in the global Fifa corruption probe after admitting that he accepted bribes from a company trying to secure sports marketing contracts.

Hector Trujillo, 63, took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for sports marketing contracts, US prosecutors said.

Trujillo was general secretary of Guatemala’s federation when he was arrested in December 2015 in Port Canaveral, Florida, while taking a Disney cruise with his family.

As he pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court, Trujillo admitted taking bribes and agreed not to contest any sentence less than four years and nine months in prison. He spoke through a Spanish interpreter, saying his crimes occurred between 2009 and 2016.

“I recognised that I deprived the federation of my honest services,” Trujillo said, appearing emotional enough that a court employee brought him a box of tissues. “I know that it was wrong for me to accept those payments.”

He said the bribes were paid by a Miami, Florida, sports marketing company to help it secure contracts through current and future negotiations.

He said he received bribes in 2010 and 2014 and paid some of the proceeds to others. He said he never notified the federation that he had received payments.

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As part of the plea, Trujillo agreed to forfeit US$175,000, with sentencing set for September 20 although Trujillo is free on bail.

Trujillo spent weeks in federal prison in Oklahoma and New York before he was freed on US$4 million bond in January 2016 and granted home detention in Newark, New Jersey. His lawyer said he had resigned his position on Guatemala’s Constitutional Court after he was charged.

Fifa, the governing body of international football, suspended the Guatemala Football Association in October.

Brayan Jimenez, the former president of the Guatemala association, was banned for life by Fifa in April after pleading guilty to racketeering and wire fraud.

The US investigation of corruption linked to Fifa has indicted or taken guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to football in the Americas since 2015.

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Many of the charges involve bribes paid around the organisation of regional tournaments and Fifa World Cup qualifying games.

Prosecutors in Switzerland have also been investigating, while Fifa has also conducted internal investigations of corruption and self-dealing that led it to ban their former president, Sepp Blatter, and secretary general, Jerome Valcke.