Paraguay’s Napout Sentenced to 9 Years for FIFA Corruption

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN)  – A federal judge sentenced Paraguayan soccer official Juan Angel Napout to nine years in prison Wednesday afternoon for his role in FIFA corruption.

Juan Angel Napout, of Paraguay, arrives to federal court in the Brooklyn on Dec. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Currently incarcerated in a Brooklyn federal detention center, 60-year-old Napout was found guilty in December of three counts including racketeering and wire fraud conspiracy.

Napout, former head of the South American soccer confederation Conmebol, collected $3.3 million in bribes from three separate schemes, according to a ledger entered as evidence.

In exchange for the marketing rights to major soccer tournaments, Napout was promised a total of $24.9 million in bribes between 2010 and 2026. He was arrested in 2015, however, when Swiss and U.S. authorities arrested a number of executives from the world soccer body ahead of the 2015 FIFA Congress in Zurich.

At Napout’s sentencing hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen ordered $3.3 million in forfeiture and a $1 million fine. Restitution will be determined separately at a later hearing.

Chen emphasized that Napout held a position of privilege and power in Paraguay, and that he took the bribe money “not because of need, but because of greed.”

“There is no other explanation for what would have motivated him,” Chen said. “Greed or some sense of status or maybe a sense of entitlement.”

Last week, prosecutors had lobbied for a sentence of 20 years for Napout.

Napout was represented by John Pappalardo, Elliot H. Scherker and Jacqueline Becerra of Greenberg Traurig LLP and Silvia Pinera-Vazquez of the Pinera-Vazquez Law Firm.

His sentence is more than twice the term that Chen gave to Napout’s co-defendant, former Brazilian Football Confederation President Jose Maria Marin, in connection to the same scandal.

In addition to a four-year sentence, 86-year-old Marin was fined $1.2 million and ordered to pay an additional $3.3 million in damages.

The prosecution had been seeking a 10-year sentence for Marin, but Judge Chen opted for a shorter punishment in what was the first sentencing in the long-running U.S. investigation of FIFA corruption.

More than 20 international soccer executives have pleaded guilty to U.S. authorities on bribery charges in order to avoid a trial. More than 40 senior football and marketing executives and several companies were implicated in the corruption scandal.

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