Hernan Lopez, the creator of the Wondery podcast business and a former executive of 21st Century Fox, had his conviction overturned on Friday night by a federal judge in New York. Hernan Lopez was found guilty earlier this year of buying lucrative media and marketing rights to major competitions and events, including the World Cup, by paying millions of dollars to FIFA soccer authorities.
Lopez was charged with wire fraud and money laundering
Along with Carlos Martinez, another Fox executive, Lopez was charged with wire fraud and money laundering. He was also accused of utilizing phony consulting agreements and shell businesses to cover up or mask bribery and kickback payments. According to the prosecution, the bribes enabled them to gain secret bidding information and helped Fox secure the U.S. broadcasting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup games, reports from The Wrap.
Hernan Lopez was found guilty in March despite Martinez’s acquittal at trial.
With reference to a recent Supreme Court ruling on wire fraud and the absence of precedent for overseas business bribery, U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen allowed a petition for acquittal.
Yahoo News reported that the Supreme Court’s most recent wire fraud decisions, particularly Percoco, and the lack of precedent relating honest services wire fraud to foreign commercial bribery, Chen wrote in her ruling, “require this court to find that (the statute) does not criminalize the conduct in this case, and that, consequently, the evidence at trial was insufficient to sustain defendants’ convictions under that statute.”
According to Hernan Lopez ‘s attorney, David Sarratt, they are plainly happy with Judge Chen’s detailed and accurate ruling. They continue to believe in the innocence of our client.
Hernan Lopez started the podcast company Wondery, which he left after selling it to Amazon in 2021.