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Former Fiesta Bowl chief executive John Junker has pleaded guilty to one count of felony solicitation to commit a fraud scheme. He and other executives have been accused of asking employees to make $50,000 in donations to bowl-friendly politicians. Reimbursements were then recorded as "employee bonuses."
The scheme caused organization records, donor lists and campaign finance reports to be falsified over a 9-year period. It is also illegal to use another person's name to make political contributions.
Junker's sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 26, and he faces a maximum penalty of up to 2.5 years in jail. The severity of the sentence will depend on how well he cooperated with authorities and the extent of his participation in the scheme.
Two other Fiesta Bowl employees, Peggy Eyanson and Jay Fields, also entered guilty pleas on Tuesday. They only received fines and probation, but they were charged with misdemeanors. The organization's attorney also told the Associated Press that Eyanson admitted wrongdoing early in the investigation.
Because John Junker was charged with a felony and headed the organization, it's unlikely that he will receive such a lenient punishment.
April's sentencing will not be the end for Junker, who still faces another felony charge in federal court. His attorney has said that he again plans to plead guilty to those charges, reports the Associated Press. If true, he will also have to be sentenced by a federal judge.
That could add significantly to the amount of prison or probation time John Junker serves.
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