PHOENIX — Prosecutors are seeking a one-year prison sentence for a former
Fiesta Bowl chief executive who admitted to participating in an illegal campaign
contribution scheme, saying the longtime bowl leader should be granted some
leniency for cooperating with authorities but should ultimately serve time
behind bars because he abused his position of power.
John Junker is set to be sentenced March 13 for his involvement in a scheme in
which bowl employees made illegal campaign contributions to politicians and were
reimbursed by the bowl. The bowl, a nonprofit, was barred from making such
contributions. Bowl employees were reimbursed at least $46,000 for campaign
His guilty plea two years ago to a federal conspiracy charge carries a
punishment of up to five years in prison. Prosecutors, who made their sentencing
recommendation Friday to U.S. District Judge David Campbell, said Junker’s
attorney is expected to seek probation.
Prosecutors said they were satisfied with Junker’s cooperation and believe that
the former bowl leader answered their questions truthfully and appeared
Still, they said Junker, who was fired from the bowl in March 2011, should face
prison time because he solicited his employees to commit crimes.
Four bowl employees were convicted of a state misdemeanor of making a
prohibited campaign contribution, and the bowl’s former chief operating officer
pleaded guilty to a federal felony conspiracy charge. All five were sentenced to
“Junker’s serious abuse of his pre-eminent place within the Fiesta Bowl put
his employees in the untenable position of either committing criminal offenses
or displeasing their boss and perhaps risking their jobs,” prosecutor Frank
Galati said in the court filing.
They say Junker also undermined the electoral process by seeking to increase
the bowl’s influence with politicians who had been given the illegal
contributions. “Such conduct feeds public cynicism and the growing perception
that the political process belongs to the rich and powerful at the expense of
the average citizen,” Galati wrote.
A call left midday Tuesday to Junker’s attorney, Stephen Dichter, wasn’t
In a court filing in May, Dichter said the leader of the scheme was a lobbyist,
not Junker, and that the bowl CEO wasn’t deeply involved in the day-to-day
operation of the scheme.
He said Junker’s involvement included making political contributions himself
that were reimbursed and failing to stop the scheme.
In his plea agreement, Junker said he knew it was illegal to use other people’s
names to mask political contributions and that the bowl couldn’t legally
reimburse the contributions.