NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–March 28, 2016. Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Rafael Callejas, the president of the Honduran soccer federation (FENAFUTH) from 2002 to 2015, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy in connection with his receipt of bribes in exchange for the awarding of contracts for the media and marketing rights to FIFA World Cup qualifier matches. Callejas, who served as the President of the Republic of Honduras from 1990 to 1994, also agreed to forfeit $650,000. At sentencing, Callejas faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for each count. Today’s plea proceeding took place before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Diego G. Rodriguez for FBI’s New York Field Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony J. Orlando for the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office.
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Callejas negotiated and accepted bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for his agreement to exercise his influence as the president of FENAFUTH to award contracts to Media World, a Florida sports marketing company, for the media and marketing rights to the Honduran national soccer team’s home World Cup qualifier matches for the 2014, 2018 and 2022 editions of the World Cup. Over a period of years, Media World transmitted these bribes from its U.S. bank accounts, through an intermediary, to the foreign bank accounts of the defendant and a co-conspirator.
The guilty plea announced today is part of an investigation into corruption in international soccer being led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI’s New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. The prosecutors in Brooklyn are receiving considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Evan M. Norris, Amanda Hector, Paul Tuchmann, Nadia Shihata, Keith D. Edelman and Brian D. Morris of the Eastern District of New York are in charge of today’s prosecution.
The government’s investigation is ongoing.