Former Fiesta Bowl CEO sentenced to eight months in federal prison

By Chip Patterson | Staff Writer

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John Junker, the former Fiesta Bowl CEO fired for his role in an illegal campaign contributions scheme, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison on Thursday.

Under Junker's watch, bowl employees made campaign contributions to bowl-friendly politicians and were then reimbursed by the Fiesta Bowl's nonprofit funds. An internal report released at the time Junker was fired listed "at least $46,539" in reimbursements.

A report from the Arizona Republic in 2009 first uncovered Junker's improprieties with bowl funds, which were not limited to campaign contributions. The Fiesta Bowl also paid $33,000 for Junker's 50th birthday celebration at Pebble Beach, Calif., covered memberships at four elite private golf clubs and funded a $1,200 trip for Junker and two others to a Phoenix strip club.

In addition to campaign contributions, the Fiesta Bowl aided in lobbying efforts and provided benefits to legislators. According to the Associated Press, it is estimated that "nearly 30 lawmakers" received free football tickets, and some got all-expense-paid trips from the Fiesta Bowl when Junker was in charge.

A federal conspiracy conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but U.S. District Judge David Campbell sentenced Junker to 8 to 14 months due to his cooperation in the investigation.

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