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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 17, 2005

Hoyzer given jail sentence

BERLIN -- The referee who took bribes to fix soccer games in Germany was convicted of fraud Thursday and sentenced to 29 months in prison.

The prosecution had recommended a suspended two-year sentence for Robert Hoyzer, but judge Gerti Kramer sent the former referee to prison.

Ante Sapina, a Croatian gambler, was convicted of fraud and given 35 months in prison for masterminding the match-fixing scheme. The judge handed down the sentence requested by the prosecution in his case.

Another former referee, Dominik Marks, was given a suspended 18-month sentence, although the prosecution had asked for a two-year prison term.

Ante Sapina's brothers, Milan and Filip, also were given suspended sentences -- Milan for 16 months and Filip for 12.

Judge Kramer said she was sending the 26-year-old Hoyzer to prison because his crimes were not juvenile deeds, but "adult acts" of serious weight.

"We did not find any proof that Robert Hoyzer had been lured," the judge said.

Ante Sapina was clearly behind the scheme, she said.

"He alone chose when, if and how the betting would take place," she said in explaining the verdict.

German soccer federation president Theo Zwanziger said the sentences were fitting.

"I'm happy that just 10 months after the scandal came to light, a verdict has been handed down," Zwanziger said.

Both Hoyzer and Sapina had given comprehensive admissions to the court during the one-month trial.

After first denying the match-fixing allegations, Hoyzer admitted in January that he took money from a betting syndicate to fix games, mostly in lower German divisions. He became a chief witness for the prosecution, providing most of the evidence that was used in the indictment.

Lawyers for both Hoyzer and Sapina said they will appeal.

"We think it's unjust," Hoyzer's lawyer Thomas Hermes said. "We are very disappointed by the ruling."

Hoyzer, who spent two weeks in custody in February, had said before the trial that he was terrified of going back to prison. He left the court building without comment.

He and Sapina will not have to serve their sentences immediately. If their appeals are unsuccessful, they will have to report to low-security prisons.

Unlike Hoyzer and Sapina, Marks had disputed his role in the scheme and had shown no remorse, the prosecution said.

While admitting that he took money from Sapina, Marks denied manipulating any games. He was involved in two, while his offer to fix a third was turned down by Sapina.

Former player Steffen Karl, the sixth defendant in the case, has denied any match-fixing charges and his trial will continue separately.

The defendants could have faced up to 10 years in prison.

Ante Sapina's lawyers pleaded for his acquittal, arguing that he had not placed bets with a criminal intent in mind and suffered from a gambling addiction that had gotten out of hand.

They also tried repeatedly to portray Hoyzer as more involved in running the match-fixing scheme than he admitted to investigators.

The Sapina brothers also have been charged with fraud and money laundering in connection with a match-fixing scandal in Greece, court officials said later Thursday.

The charges against them originate from a UEFA Cup match in Athens on Dec. 1 between the Greek club Panionios and Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia. Reports of suspicious betting patterns emerged after the game, which Panionios won 5-2 despite trailing 1-0 at halftime.

Hoyzer, already banned for life by the German soccer federation, was charged with 11 counts of fraud.

Ante Sapina was accused of running the betting syndicate from a cafe he owned in Berlin. He was charged with 42 counts of fraud.

According to the 289-page charge sheet, the three Sapina brothers made at least $2.34 million by betting on fixed games.

Prosecutors say 23 games, mostly in lower divisions, are believed to have been fixed from April to December 2004.

Hoyzer admitted receiving $78,400 from the Sapina brothers to fix the games.

Ante Sapina and Hoyzer will face civil damage claims from the betting agencies which lost money and the German Soccer Federation, which will have to compensate cheated teams.