FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2006 file photo, Honduras' former President Rafael Leonardo Callejas speaks to the press in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Callejas, who was convicted in the FIFA soccer bribery scandal, died in the United States in an Atlanta prison on Saturday, April 4, 2020. He was 76. (AP Photo/Edgard Garrido, File)

Ex-Honduran leader caught in FIFA scandal dies in U.S.

April 04, 2020 - 5:59 pm

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A former president of Honduras who was convicted in the FIFA soccer bribery scandal died in the United States on Saturday.

Rafael Callejas governed Honduras from 1990 to 1994, but he was better known for soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in the wide-ranging FIFA soccer scandal over lucrative broadcast rights.

Callejas, 76, pleaded guilty in 2016 and was reportedly being held at a prison in Atlanta when he died.

Current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez confirmed Callejas’ death, adding on his Twitter account that “we enormously regret” the loss of the former leader. Hernandez said Callejas is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.

No cause of death was given, but Callejas had reportedly suffered from leukemia.

After leaving office, Callejas was once a member of FIFA’s television and marketing committee.

He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy in a New York federal court. He said he distributed a significant portion of his bribes to delegates of the Honduran soccer federation so he could remain its president, a position he held from 2002 to last August.

Callejas said he abused his powerful position in the soccer world to award contracts to Media World, a Miami-based sports marketing company that paid bribes through U.S. bank accounts to the foreign bank accounts of Callejas and a co-conspirator.

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