NEW YORK – After the conviction of two former South American football officials of bribery, a US jury is set to return to court on Tuesday to decide the fate of a third official charged in the FIFA scandal.
Jurors found Juan Napout, of Paraguay, and Jose Maria Marin, Brazil, guilty of multiple conspiracy after a week of consultation in the federal district court in Brooklyn. But they told U. S. District Judge Pamela Chen that they were divided on a verdict for Manuel Burga, Peru, on his single extortion charge. Chen told them to come back and try again after the holiday weekend.
The judge immediately jailed Marin, 85, and Napout, 59, agreeing with the plaintiffs, who, if left free, the men had enough connections and wealth to flee the US to avoid a prison sentence, that they may be more than 10 years on the top count alone.
Burga, 60, the former president of Peru’s football federation, should be free on bail pending the outcome of his case. His lawyer, Bruce Udolf, said that his client was hopeful that the jury clear to him.
Marin, Burga and Napout was arrested in 2015. The prosecutors accused them of agreeing to millions of dollars in bribes from entrepreneurs looking to “lock-up” lucrative media rights or influence hosting rights for the football world cup and other major tournaments, is controlled by the FIFA.
The three were among more than 40 persons and entities in the world of global football will be charged in the united states in connection with an investigation that discovered hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. Many of the other defendants pleaded guilty.
During the trial, the defense argued that the men were innocent bystanders framed by untrustworthy employees fishing for leniency in their own cases. Burga’s lawyer claimed that there was no proof he took bribes.
“I can tell you that never has less evidence,” Udolf said.
Burga got some unwelcome attention early in the process as a prosecutor claimed that he unnerved the government’s star witness, a former marketing manager of Argentina, Alejandro Burzaco, by sending a threatening gesture to him with his fingers in his throat in a slicing motion. The lawyer claimed that his client was merely scratching his throat, but the judge took the incident seriously enough to turn Burga’s house arrest conditions.