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Ex-head of South American soccer governing body sentenced to nine years

Ex-head of South American soccer governing body sentenced to nine years
FILE PHOTO: Wilmar Valdez, interim president of the South American Football confederation CONMEBOL, speaks during a news conference in Luque, Paraguay, December 11, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno   -   Copyright  JORGE ADORNO(Reuters)
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By Brendan Pierson

NEWYORK (Reuters) – A former head of the governing body for soccer in South America was sentenced to nine years in prison by a U.S. judge on Wednesday for crimes stemming from the bribery scandal that engulfed the sport three years ago, a spokesman for prosecutors said.

Juan Angel Napout, 60, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn, New York, who also ordered him to pay more than $4.3 million (3.31 million pounds)in financial penalties, according to John Marzulli, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.

Napout’s lawyer, Silvia Pinera-Vazquez, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Napout had served as the head of the national soccer federation in his native Paraguay and, later, of South America’s soccer governing body CONMEBOL. He was found guilty by a jury last December of racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy.

Napout was tried alongside Jose Maria Marin, a former head of Brazil’s soccer federation, who was also convicted last week and sentenced to four years in prison.

A third defendant at the trial, former Peruvian soccer official Manuel Burga, was cleared of all charges.

The three men are the only defendants so far to go to trial out of more than 40 people and entities charged by U.S. prosecutors in connection with the corruption scandal surrounding FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, since 2015.

Prosecutors have described a sprawling scheme involving payments of more than $200 million of bribes and kickbacks in exchange for marketing and broadcast rights for soccer matches.

The prosecutors said that Marin and Napout each personally took millions of dollars in bribes.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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