New York - A
US judge on Wednesday imposed the first sentence in the sweeping FIFA
corruption scandal, sending a Guatemalan former official to jail for
eight months and saying that he had destroyed people's faith in soccer.
Hector Trujillo, 64, stood with his head bowed, eyes cast toward the
floor and wiped away tears as he heard his fate in a federal court in
Brooklyn, four months after pleading guilty to wire fraud and
Judge Pamela Chen ruled that Trujillo, the former general secretary
of Guatemala's Football Federation from 2009 to 2015 and a one-time
judge on the country's constitutional court, would begin his sentence
November 20 in Florida.
Trujillo has already served one month, prior to being allowed to live
in the Sunshine State on a $4 million bail. He will likely be deported
Prosecutors say he and other officials accepted $400 000 in kickbacks
from a Miami-based sports marketing company in exchange for media and
marketing rights to Guatemala's qualifier matches for the 2018 and 2022
"These are serious crimes," Chen told the court. "I think Mr Trujillo
feels remorse more about himself. I'm not sure for other people," the
The defendant, she said, had betrayed the trust of people who depend
on officials like him "to do your job with honesty and good faith, and
you've destroyed it - what people feel for soccer in general."
"In some ways he destroyed his country. Soccer is the national love
and a patriotic endeavor. He eroded... the pride of his country. He
should have known better and done better when he took that money," Chen
The largest corruption scandal in the history of soccer, first
unveiled in May 2015, has seen US prosecutors indict 42 football and
sports marketing executives with allegedly receiving tens of millions of
bribes and kickbacks.
Like many of the indicted,
Trujillo cut a deal with prosecutors hoping for leniency and pleaded
guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy
Wednesday's sentence was far lighter than the 41-month minimum
requested by government prosecutors. The judge said she took into
account Trujillo's age, poor health and nearly two years of house
In a long plea in self-defense, during which he broke down into tears
as his children sobbed in the front row, Trujillo begged the judge for
"Looking back I think I was blind. I did not see it," he sobbed, dressed in a dark suit, stripey tie and pale blue shirt.
"Maybe I justified it by thinking it was something normal. I thought
it was something different from the corruption I fought so many years,"
The judge ordered Trujillo to foot a $415 000 bill to pay back the
Guatemalan soccer federation - shared with two co-defendants, and said
he would also have to pay $175 000 restitution to the US government.
The former lawyer was arrested on December 4, 2015 while on a family
cruise in Florida and initially pleaded not guilty to eight charges
In January 2016, he posted his $4 million bond, surrendering his passport and submitting to electronic monitoring.
The US corruption investigation precipitated the downfall of longtime
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his former heir apparent, Michel
Just three Latin American defendants who have continued to plead not
guilty are due to go on trial in a US federal court in Brooklyn on