August 23 – In a landmark verdict six months after he was convicted for his role in the FifaGate scandal, Jose Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil’s football federation who to the last insisted he had done nothing wrong, has been sentenced to four years in jail.
Marin, 86, was sentenced on Wednesday in a Brooklyn federal court, the first senior administrator caught up in US-led investigation to be sent to prison for corruption. He was also fined $1.2 million and ordered to forfeit $3.34 million.
Head of Brazil’s FA during the country’s hosting of the World Cup in 2014, Marin was one of the infamous ‘Zurich Seven’ arrested in the May 2015 dawn raids at Zurich’s Baur au Lac hotel, the start of a process which ended up snaring scores of high-ranking officials and brought FIFA to its knees.
In December after a six-week trial, he was found guilty of six of the seven counts against him of money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy amounting to $6.5 million in connection with the award of broadcast and marketing rights.
“His crime was one of pure, unmitigated and unchecked greed,” said Judge Pamela Chen, sentencing, saying she wanted “to send a message of deterrence” as she described Marin as a rich man who could easily have said no to receiving bribes.
Although prosecutors had asked for 10 years Marin will feel a huge sense of despair since the defence had sought only the approximately 13 months he has already served, citing his advanced age and poor health.
Whether Marin will still be alive after serving his sentence must be doubtful. Before his sentencing he told the court: “I regret if any person or entity has been harmed by my actions. I am a man with no future. My main worry is my wife.”
More than 40 people and entities have been charged in connection with the $200 million corruption scandal. Of those, 24 have pleaded guilty.
Marin’s lawyer Charles Stillman said his client would appeal and that while he was “disappointed in the length of the sentence” he appreciated “the judge’s efforts to strike a fair balance”.
Unlike many of the defendants Marin chose to fight the charges but after sentencing US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard Donoghue said in a statement: “Marin, like his co-conspirators, sold out the sport he was meant to serve to satisfy his own greed. Today’s sentence shows that for all their power and prestige, the soccer officials who corrupted ‘the beautiful game’ are not above the law.”
Webb requests further sentencing postponement
Whilst Marin was being sentenced, reports emerged that Jeffrey Webb, the former CONCACAF president who was arrested in the same dawn raids in Zurich and has pleaded guilty, has asked the New York Federal Court to postpone his sentencing.
Already rescheduled several times, Webb was due in court for sentencing September 7. In a letter to the court on Monday, Webb says the US attorney’s office have reportedly told him that they have no objection to a further postponement. No new date for sentencing has been released with the federal court schedule still showing Webb’s court date as September 7.
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