NEW YORK (AP) — A former aide to the president of the North American professional soccer federation was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 months in prison in the bribery scandal engulfing FIFA, the sport's governing body.
Costas Takkas will serve five months behind bars after being given credit for 10 months already served in Switzerland. The British citizen also faces deportation.
"I should have known better than to take actions that I did," Takkas, who's 60, said before hearing his sentence in federal court in Brooklyn.
The defendant also expressed his love of soccer, saying, "I hope the sport learns from this case."
Costas Takkas, an accountant who worked at CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, had pleaded guilty in May to money laundering conspiracy in a sprawling U.S. corruption case charging more than 40 soccer officials, marketing executives, associates and entities.
The plea came a year after he was extradited to the United States from Switzerland. He was among seven soccer officials arrested in May 2015 at a Zurich hotel two days before the FIFA presidential election.
Prosecutors accused Takkas, the former secretary general of the Cayman Islands Football Association, of laundering $3 million in bribes from marketing firms to then-CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb in exchange for exchange for television deals for high-profile soccer games.
About $500,000 was falsely listed as a wedding gift that paid for a swimming pool at Webb's house in Loganville, Georgia, and for a $50,000 painting, prosecutor said. Takkas also drew up bogus contracts to conceal the bribes, they said.
At sentencing, defense attorney Gordon Mehler called Webb an "arch-liar" who manipulated his client to enrich only himself.
Takkas "was a bag man, and he never got compensation for it," Mehler said in arguing that his client should get no additional time in prison.
But U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen said a tougher sentence was needed to send a message to soccer officials who considered it business as usual to take bribes. The judge will preside over the case's first trial next month.
Webb pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and is awaiting sentencing.