Former Fox execs denied in bid for separate soccer trial

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has denied a motion by a pair of former 21st Century Fox Inc. executives to have a separate trial from a sports marketing group on charges related to the U.S government investigation of corruption in soccer.

Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez were charged on March 18 with money laundering conspiracy as part of an alleged scheme related to rights to the Copa Libertadores soccer tournament, South America’s club championship. The pair have pleaded not guilty and asked to be tried separately from Full Play Group SA.

Lopez was CEO of Fox International Channels, a 21st Century Fox subsidiary, and Martinez was president of Fox International Channels and an executive of Fox Latin American Channel Inc. They are accused of joining with Full Play to pay million of dollars in bribes to CONMEBOL executives in exchange for rights to the Copa Libertadores, South America’s annual club championship.

“Even though Lopez and Martinez are charged in only a subset of the counts in which Full Play is charged, the court is not convinced, based in part on recent, comparable experience in this case, that severance would meaningfully streamline either trial in such a way as to substantially reduce the risk of prejudice. Rather, the court is convinced that severing Lopez and Martinez’s trial from that of Full Play will result in the unwarranted, duplicative presentation of evidence at two trials,” U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen wrote in 16-page decision Sunday.

“To the extent that Lopez and Martinez would be prejudiced by the introduction of certain evidence, there are remedies short of severance that can mitigate or eliminate any potential prejudice, such as evidentiary limitations and curative instructions” Chen added.

Lopez’s lawyer, Matthew D. Umhofer, declined comment, Steven J. McCool, Martinez’s attorney, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Umhofer in the past has called it a “thin case” and McCool called the charges “stale fiction.”


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