US judge delays sentencing of former Honduran president

New York (AFP) – A US judge has delayed until January 27 this week’s planned sentencing of disgraced former Honduran president Rafael Callejas in the sweeping corruption scandal rocking world soccer.

The 72-year-old was scheduled this Friday to become the first defendant sentenced in the FIFA scandal in New York after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering and wire fraud.

But Judge Raymond Dearie has accepted a request from the defense, with consent from government prosecutors, to adjourn until January 27, a court document showed. No reason was publicly stated.

It is the third sentencing to be adjourned, following former FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb and Argentine-Italian marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco, delayed until November and December respectively.

Callejas has been free on a $4 million bail in the United States since leaving Honduras by private jet last December to face justice.

He served as president of Honduras from 1990 to 1994. He was head of the country’s football federation from 2002 to 2015, and is also a former member of FIFA’s Television and Marketing Committee.

He originally faced eight charges of racketeering, fraud and money laundering, to which he pleaded not guilty on December 15. He subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts on March 28.

US prosecutors in New York have indicted 40 football and sports marketing executives over allegedly receiving tens of millions of bribes and kickbacks in the largest corruption scandal in the history of soccer.

The corruption investigation precipitated the downfall of longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his former heir apparent, Michel Platini, who have both been banned from the sport for six years for ethics violations.

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