John Junker Sentenced to Prison for Illegal Campaign Scheme with Fiesta Bowl

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IMarch 14, 2014

Fiesta Bowl executive director Robert H. Shelton answers questions regarding the state of the Fiesta Bowl, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, in Scottsdale, Ariz.  Shelton was hired to repair the bowl's image after former President John Junker was fired in March for allowing excess spending, an apparent illegal system of political contributions and an effort to cover up the problems. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Darryl Webb/Associated Press

Former Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker was sentenced to eight months in federal prison Thursday for his involvement in a scheme that illegally paid him and other lawmakers.     

According to the Associated Press' Jacques Billeaud, via the Arizona Capitol Times, Junker and other employees made illegal contributions to politicians and were subsequently reimbursed by the non-profit bowl. After pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in 2012, he faced a maximum of five years behind bars.

CEO for 20 years, Junker also used the Fiesta Bowl's funds for a $33,000 birthday party, a $1,200 trip to a strip club and other benefits. 

Junker was hoping to get off with probation, but prosecutors argued he used his position of power to force his employees into committing these crimes, as well. 

“He has demonstrated that he is a person who is willing to bend the will of his subordinates to execute a criminal scheme of his own device,” said federal prosecutor Frank Galati.

No one else convicted faces jail time. 

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The entire scheme nearly cost the Fiesta Bowl its BCS status, but after paying a $1 million fine and going on probation, it was allowed to remain as one of college football's most important games. 

For many, this was a long time coming for Junker. Mitch Harper of LawlessRepublic.com called Junker a "snake," referring to 1996 when the Fiesta Bowl committee passed up then No. 5 BYU in favor of No. 7 Penn State:

BYU went 14-1 during the 1996 season and defeated No. 14 Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.

According to Billeaud's report, Junker's annual salary has fallen from nearly $600,000 to $47,000 as he now works for St. Vincent de Paul.   

Fortunately, we can now officially close the book on what was a very dark mark over college football. 

As the Fiesta Bowl rotates as the host of the semifinals for the newly adopted playoff system and likely gains even more exposure, hopefully nothing like this will happen in the future. 

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