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Guatemalan pleads guilty in FIFA scandal


New York (AFP) – A 63-year-old former official in Guatemala’s Football Federation broke down in tears as he pleaded guilty in New York Friday to wire fraud and conspiracy in the massive corruption scandal that has rocked world soccer.

Hector Trujillo, who served as general secretary of the Guatemalan federation from 2009 to 2015 and also was a judge on the country’s constitutional court, admitted to one count of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy.

He was arrested on December 4, 2015 while on a family cruise in Florida and initially pleaded not guilty to eight charges against him.

Friday’s plea means there are still three defendants due to stand trial in November — those who have continued to plead not guilty in connection with the largest corruption scandal in the history of soccer.

US prosecutors say Trujillo and other federation officials accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from a Miami-based sports marketing company in exchange for media and marketing rights to Guatemala’s World Cup qualifier matches.

Trujillo agreed to forfeit $175,000 as part of his plea.

In January 2016, he posted a $4 million bond, surrendering his passport and submitting to electronic monitoring. He currently lives in Florida.

The US investigation, first unveiled in May 2015, has seen federal prosecutors in New York indict around 40 football and sports marketing executives with allegedly receiving tens of millions of bribes and kickbacks.

The scandal precipitated the downfall of longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his former heir apparent, Michel Platini.

Many of those indicted have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for possible leniency.

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