Biggest receiver: Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, was convicted on three of five counts including wire fraud and racketeering – took the largest amount of bribe, allegedly, attempted witness intimidation
Two former South American soccer bigwigs were found guilty of multiple charges Friday in the FIFA corruption scandal.
Jurors in Brooklyn Federal Court returned a mixed verdicts that capped an intriguing trial that spanned five weeks and captured global attention.
Juan Angel Napout, 59, of Paraguay, was convicted on three of five counts including wire fraud and racketeering, while soccer grandee, Jose Maria Marin, 85, of Brazil was convicted on six of seven counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
Jurors in Brooklyn Federal Court were deadlocked on the sole count against a third suspect, Manuel Burga of Peru.
85-year-old one time soccer autocrat, Jose Maria Marin [center], of Brazil, was convicted on six of seven counts of wire fraud and money laundering
The fate of Manuel Burga, 60, of Peru, remained in doubt as jurors failed to agree on the sole count of racketeering. They were ordered to return on Tuesday to continue deliberating.
The three former South American soccer presidents were charged with accepting illegal bribes in exchange for awarding lucrative marketing contracts to shady businessmen.
Prosecutors said the officials agreed to accept more than $21 million in bribes.
Burga allegedly received $4.4 million in bribes.
Soccer elder statesman, Jose Marin of Brazil ,was in it for $6.5 million, while largest bung of $10.5 million was gobbled by Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay.
Lawyers for the well-heeled soccer big shots admitted that graft and greased palms were as much a part of international soccer as goals and galactic paychecks – so far, more than 20 people have already pled guilty.
But the defense teams argued that their clients played no part in the systemic sleaze.
The trial featured roughly 30 witnesses, piles and piles of documents, strange twists and enough courtroom drama to sustain a 90-minute soccer match.
Judge Pamela Chen put Burga on house arrest after prosecutors accused him of making a slashing gesture across his throat to intimidate a witness. Burga’s lawyer argued that his client was merely attending to the rash on his neck.
In a related case an Argentine attorney accused last week on the witness stand, of banking bribes committed suicide hours later, throwing himself under a train near Buenos Aires.
Former Argentine sports businessman, Alejandro Burzaco has pled guilty to corruption charges
On Dec. 14, Alejandro Burzaco, a former sports businessman, testified in Brooklyn federal court that he had bribed Delhon and another man with an estimated $2 million over a three-year span, from 2011 and 2014.
Delhon was a lawyer for Argentina’s “Futbol Para Todos” program, a government-run program connected to soccer broadcasts.
Interestingly, Burzaco only mentioned Delhon in passing during testimony that detailed a range of alleged graft and greed in the international soccer arena.
Whereas Burzaco has pled guilty to corruption charges, Delhon was not charged in the FIFA corruption case.
Before the trial, prosecutors claimed Manuel Burga made throat slicing gestures at a star cooperator on the stand. Defense lawyers said their client was dealing with an innocuous irritation on his neck
In other odd turns, a juror was dismissed for snoozing through the proceedings, and the judge chided Burga for grabbing a paper clip and pen from her clerk’s desk.
Then there was the day pop star Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers appeared on the stand solely to confirm that there was indeed a November 2010 Paul McCartney concert in Buenos Aires. Napout has been accused of accepting $10,000 worth of the tickets as bribe. His lawyers said the concert never happened.
The FIFA corruption case came to light in spectacular fashion two years ago.
Swiss authorities rounded up a raft of suspects at a tony Zürich hotel a s federal prosecutors unsealed indictments an ocean away in Brooklyn.
Argentine sports attorney, Jorge Delhon killed himself once he was exposed in the course of the trials
Charles ‘Chuck’ Blazer American soccer wheeler-dealer turned informant
More than 40 defendants were charged in the case, before the latest convictions, over 20 of the defendants had pled guilty in the far-reaching probe.
The News spotlighted the strange saga of soccer power broker Charles Blazer, who ultimately became a cooperator for the feds.
Blazer struck a deal where he admitted to charges like racketeering, conspiracy and tax evasion. He also agreed to testify anywhere if requested by prosecutors. However about four months ahead of the Brooklyn trial, Blazer died at age 72.