A former Rio de Janeiro governor who was a key figure in hosting Brazil’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in prison for corruption.
Sergio Cabral was arrested in November of last year on multiple bribery and money laundering charges, including participation in the embezzlement of 220 million reais ($64 million) from public works projects such as Rio’s iconic Maracana football stadium.
While Cabral, 54, was sentenced to 14 years and two months behind bars, his wife Adriana Ancelmo was acquitted for lack of evidence.
In the case, in which the sentence was announced Friday, Cabral was accused of taking kickbacks for construction contracts including at an oil refinery in Rio state. He faces charges in nine other cases.
Judge Sergio Moro, who heads the nationwide anti-graft operation codenamed “Car Wash,” said in his sentencing that Cabral’s bribe-taking was partly to blame for the state’s near bankruptcy today, “where the population and public servants are suffering.”
Prosecutors said that Cabral insisted on kickbacks amounting to five percent of the value of contracts as Rio state ordered huge public works projects ahead of the World Cup and South America’s first Olympics. The powerful governor lived high on the proceeds, splurging on jewelry and other luxury items.
Cabral was governor of Rio from 2007-2014, a period that began when Brazil was riding high on strong prices for oil and other commodity exports, but ended in crippling recession.
He resigned in 2014 amid violent demonstrations against corruption and budget cuts.
The situation is no better today, with public employees ranging from police to medical staff not being paid on time and infrastructure crumbling.
A member of President Michel Temer’s centrist PMDB party, Cabral is just one of scores of politicians targeted by “Car Wash,” including senior figures from across the political spectrum.