June 2, 2017 / 8:58 PM / 2 years ago

Guatemalan judge pleads guilty in FIFA bribery scandal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Guatemalan judge who once served as general secretary of Guatemala’s soccer federation pleaded guilty on Friday to wire fraud and conspiracy charges in the worldwide scandal engulfing the sport.

Former secretary general of the Guatemalan football federation Hector Trujillo of Guatemala departs after pleading guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Hector Trujillo, 63, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn, New York, in connection with the U.S. probe into bribery involving the world soccer governing body FIFA.

Trujillo also agreed to give up $175,000 in kickbacks, according to an order of forfeiture.

The defendant had been arrested in December 2015 on a Disney cruise ship docked in Port Canaveral, Florida, and was released the following month on $4 million bond.

He is among at least 42 people and entities charged in a U.S. probe into the payment of more than $200 million of bribes and kickbacks to soccer officials, in exchange for marketing and broadcast rights.

Prosecutors said Trujillo accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes, to be split with other Guatemalan soccer officials, in exchange for help in providing media and marketing rights for qualifier matches for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

One of those officials was Brayan Jimenez, who had served as president of Guatemala’s soccer federation, prosecutors said.

Jimenez pleaded guilty last July to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges.

FIFA suspended Guatemala’s soccer federation in October.

Trujillo faces up to 20 years in prison on each count at his scheduled Sept. 20 sentencing. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of between 41 months and 51 months.

The plea came nine days after Costas Takkas, a former aide to the president of CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy charge.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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