As you know, we represent CONCACAF in connection with the investigation of the U.S. Department of Justice into worldwide soccer and indictments pending in the Eastern District of New York. The DOJ has obtained criminal charges against more than 40 defendants in connection with its ongoing investigation. More than 24 defendants have pled guilty. Three defendants are currently on trial. Their trial began on Monday, November 13. The three defendants are former presidents of South American football (soccer) confederations from Peru (Manuel Burga), Paraguay (Juan Angel Napout), and Brazil (Jose Maria Marin). The defendants are accused of accepting kickbacks and bribes from sports media companies in exchange for awarding lucrative media rights contracts to soccer tournaments. The trial is of great interest to many constituents in the sports world, as well as those clients interested in corruption trials more generally.
We are sending associates to observe the trial each day and give us daily reports. Attached please find today’s report and a recap from previous days. If you or any of your clients are interested in receiving these daily updates, please let us know. We will continue to send them to you and your clients who opt in to receiving these updates. In order to opt in, please reply to this email.
Trial Summary: November 17, 2017 (Day 5)
Government Witness: Alejandro Burzaco
Burzaco was cross-examined first by Manuel Burga’s attorney and then by Jose Marin’s attorney.
Cross by Burga’s Attorney
Burzaco’s Connection to Bribes
Burga’s defense attorney began by exploring Burzaco’s specific role in facilitating bribes to Burga. Burga’s attorney repeatedly asked Burzaco if he ever “put any money in Mr. Burga’s hands.” Burga’s attorney suggested that, as far as Burzaco knew, he was just giving money to a fund controlled by the Jinkises, who would then make payments to Burga. Burzaco admitted that he did in fact make payments to the Jinkises with the assumption they would then pay Burga, and that he could not say for sure whether the Jinkises actually paid those bribes to Burga. Burga’s attorney confirmed with Burzaco that the only way that Burzaco knew Burga had received bribes was through other people, and that Burzaco had no documents to show these bribe payments were made.
Burga’s Lack of Loyalty to Burzaco as Evidence Burga Never Received Bribes
Next, Burga’s attorney attempted to show that Burga was not bribed by Burzaco because Burga was not loyal to Burzaco and acted independently. Burga’s attorney focused on an October 2012 meeting between Burzaco and Burga that Burzaco had set up to discuss bribe payments to Burga. Burga’s attorney suggested that this meeting was partially motivated by Burzaco’s desire to confirm that bribe payments had been made to Burga, suggesting that Burzaco was not sure at the time if the Jinkises had actually paid the bribes to Burga. In addition, Burga’s attorney asked Burzaco about Burga’s meeting with Paco Casal, a rival of Burzaco’s. Through his questioning, Burga’s attorney suggested that Burga’s dealing with Casal indicated Burga was not loyal to Burzaco, trying to imply that, had Burga actually received bribes from Burzaco, Burga would have been more loyal and not met with Casal. Finally, Burga’s attorney highlighted the fact that this October 2012 meeting was the only meeting ever between Burzaco and Burga, and that there are no witnesses to corroborate the meeting.
Burzaco Not Reliable Because of Cooperation with the Government
Finally, Burga’s attorney focused on Burzaco’s interactions with the government in an attempt to suggest that Burzaco was an unreliable witness because he was only testifying to obtain leniency from the government. Burga’s attorney asked Burzaco about his cooperation agreement and his sentencing date, trying to highlight to the jury that Burzaco’s sentencing had been postponed “indefinitely” in exchange for testifying.
Cross by Marin’s Lawyers
Marin’s lawyer began in a similar manner as Burga’s ended: eliciting testimony about the times that Burzaco met with the government (and his own lawyer) before this testimony. Burzaco estimated he met with the government roughly 50 times and his own lawyer 20 times in preparation for his testimony.
Marin As Unimportant Figure in Brazilian Soccer; Del Nero the Real Power Figure
The next part of the cross-examination was designed to present Marin as an honorary figure in CONMEBOL and Brazilian soccer who did have real influence and control. Marin’s lawyer asked Burzaco about Ricardo Teixeira, the former President of the Brazilian Soccer Federation (“CFB”). Teixeira resigned from his position as President in early 2012, before his term was up. Burzaco testified that when Teixeira resigned, Burzaco assumed that Del Nero, another Brazilian soccer official, would assume the Presidency. Burzaco described Del Nero as the most influential person in Brazilian soccer at that time. Ultimately, however, it was Marin, and not Del Nero, who became President. Burzaco testified that he heard the reason Marin became President was because of Brazilian federation rules that made the oldest member of the board President if the acting President resigned before his term had completed.
Marin’s lawyer continued to try to paint a picture of Marin as non-influential and non-powerful by noting that Marin did not become a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee. Burzaco testified that it was unusual for the CFB President to not have a seat on the FIFA Executive Committee, a committee Burzaco testified was considered very prestigious. Burzaco testified that CONMEBOL appointed Del Nero to be on the FIFA Executive Committee instead of Marin. Burzaco further testified that whenever he saw Marin he saw him with Del Nero and that Del Nero was the real “voice of Brazilian soccer.” Burzaco described the relationship between Del Nero and Marin as akin to a constitutional monarchy: Marin was the King while Del Nero was the Prime Minister who exercised all the real power.
June 2012 Meeting
Marin’s lawyer also asked questions about a June 2012 meeting at a restaurant that included Burzaco, Marin, Del Nero, Marcellus Pintos (head of the sports division at TV Global in Brazil) and Julio Grondona. The agenda for this meeting was to discuss bribes to be paid for the Copa Libertadores and Copa Americana rights. Marin’s lawyer tried to suggest that when Burzaco first told the government about this meeting he did not tell the government that Grondona was at the meeting; Burzaco disputed this account. In addition, Marin’s lawyer tried to suggest that Marin was at the bar (and not the lunch table) while these discussions took place. Again, Burzaco disputed that account.
Destruction of Torneos Documents
Finally, Marin’s lawyer asked Burzaco about whether he had put in place at Torneos a procedure to destroy documents and records in the case of a government investigation. Burzaco testified that there was no such plan to destroy documents. Rather, Torneos had a procedure to remove sensitive documents from the reach of search warrants executed by Argentinian police. Marin’s lawyer asked Burzaco if, upon learning that he had been indicted, called Eladio Rodriguez and told him to destroy Torneo documents at the Torneo office in Montevideo, Uruguay. Burzaco testified that he did not and that he did not know that Rodriquez sent an engineer to the Montevideo office to destroy certain documents.
On re-direct, the government walked Burzaco through the June 2012 meeting that Marin’s lawyer had focused on. Burzaco testified that he discussed all the bribe payments that were made with Marin and the other attendees. Burzaco stated that at the meeting Marin told him he was grateful to Burzaco and hugged him at the end of the meeting. Next, the government walked through Burzaco’s meeting with the government as part of Burzaco’s cooperation. Burzaco testified that he did not have a script when he met with the government, that he did not see a list of those people indicted, that he did not know what other evidence was going to be presented later at trial, and that he did not know who the other witnesses were going to be. Finally, the government attempted to rebut the suggestion that Burzaco had no choice but to testify by having Burzaco explain that the reason he turned himself in was because he wanted to come clean and potentially make amends for his wrongs.
Government Witness: Teddy Camilien
The government then called Teddy Camilien from Customs and Border Control to confirm that according to a government travel database, Burzaco, Napout, and Marin traveled to the United States on April 17 and 18, 2017, and that Burga and Napout both traveled to the United States on April 29, 2015.
Government Witness: Rosemary Pampena
The government’s next witness was Rosemary Pampena who works as a customer feedback services manager for Swiss International Airlines. Pampena testified that records confirmed that Napout traveled from Panama to JFK on September 12, 2014; from Newark to Miami on September 14, 2014; and from Miami to Zurich on September 20, 2014. On the record for Napout’s travel, Costas Takkas, Jeffrey Webb’s associate, made the reservation. Finally, Pampena testified as to travel made by Enrique Sanz in March 2013.
Government Witness: Robert Pepitone
The government’s final witness for the day was Robert Pepitone, who works at Clearinghouse. Clearinghouse is a payments systems operator that, among other things, operates a service that facilitates high-value wire transfers. Clearinghouse had responded to the government’s request for documents for all transfers made between 2012 and 2015. Pepitone testified that all the transactions were processed in New York (even the transactions that were made from one international bank to another).
Pepitone’s testimony will continue on Monday.
Motion to Remand
After dismissing the jury, Judge Chen returned to the issue of the government’s motion to remand Manuel Burga to custody after the government alleged that Burga made a threatening motion to Burzaco while Burzaco was on the stand. Initially, the government was going to have Burzaco testify about what he saw while he was on the stand. After strenuous objections from Burga’s lawyers, Judge Chen allowed the government lawyers to meet with Burzaco for about 20 minutes to tell him about what to expect when he testified about the threatening gesture. Burga’s attorney expressed concern that the government would use this opportunity to coach the witness. Upon returning to the courtroom, Judge Chen, the government, and Burga’s lawyer engaged in a discussion about the propriety of allowing Burzaco to testify. In particular, the government was adamant that Burga’s lawyer put his objections on the record, because Burga’s lawyer mentioned to the government the possibility for moving for a mistrial if Judge Chen allowed Burzaco to testify. Burga’s lawyer was not able to articulate a clear legal backing for making such a motion (though he maintains he is going to research it).
Ultimately, Judge Chen decided to postpone Burzaco’s testimony until Monday. Until then, Judge Chen has implemented temporary new restrictions on Burga’s bail which restrict his phone and email access so that he is only able to contact his lawyer and his wife. Judge Chen granted Burga’s lawyer’s request that Burga see a dermatologist (presumably in an attempt to prove that Burga has a skin condition that would cause him to scratch his neck). Judge Chen stated that on Monday she will hear from Burzaco about what she saw and then make a final decision about Burga’s bail condition. Judge Chen said she thinks it unlikely that she will remand Burga to prison (as she has already limited his phone and email access almost entirely) but is holding judgment until hearing from Burzaco.
Previous trial summaries: