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Ex-Fiesta Bowl chief pleads guilty to illegal campaign contributions

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Ex-Fiesta Bowl chief pleads guilty to illegal campaign contributions

John Junker solicited money from employees in guise of bonuses

The former executive director of the Fiesta Bowl pleaded guilty Tuesday to making illegal federal campaign contributions by the Fiesta Bowl, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

John Junker, 56, of Phoenix, who served as Fiesta Bowl's executive director from 1990 until 2011, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in a Phoneix federal court. He will serve no more than two years in prison under the plea agreement, said Bill Solomon, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Junker admitted to conspiring with others to solicit campaign contributions from Fiesta Bowl workers while making it appear to be employee bonuses. Junker said he knew what he was doing was illegal, but instructed Fiesta Bowl CEO Natalie Wisneski to use bonuses to pay back the employees for the contributions, Solomon said.

Junker said he directed reimbursement of $25,000 in contributions made to federal campaigns between 2006 and 2009. Tax returns filed for 2007 and 2008 included false claims that the Fiesta Bowl made no political contributions, Solomon said.

Wisneski is expected to enter a guilty plea to her charge on Friday, Solomon said.

A conviction for conspiracy has a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Under Junker's plea agreement, his sentence will not be more than two years, Solomon said.

Junker is scheduled to be sentenced May 21.

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