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Report: Ex-Fiesta Bowl executive John Junker sentenced to eight months in prison

John Junker, seen here with Charlie Weis,  (AP Photo/Paul Connors) John Junker (left, with Charlie Weis) once had a $33,000 birthday party in California. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Former Fiesta Bowl executive John Junker was sentenced on Thursday to eight months behind bars for his role in an illegal campaign contribution scheme, the Associated Press reports.

The scheme involved bowl employees making contributions to politicians and then being reimbursed by the Fiesta Bowl.

Junker also took part in excessive spending by the nonprofit bowl.

The scandal also exposed the lavish spending and perks that the Fiesta Bowl heaped on lawmakers and employees -- though no charges were filed involving those perks.

Junker received cars, four high-end country club memberships, a $33,000 birthday party in Pebble Beach, Calif., $1,200 for a trip to a strip club, among other benefits from the Fiesta Bowl.

Nearly 30 lawmakers received free football tickets, and some got all-expense-paid trips from the bowl, but prosecutors declined to bring any charges against them.

Junker is the only Fiesta Bowl employee to face time in federal prison due to the charges. Four other bowl employees were convicted of misdemeanors, while one pled guilty to a federal felony conspiracy charge.

The Fiesta Bowl scandal first surfaced in an Arizona Republic story in 2009, and the scheme nearly cost the bowl its BCS status and NCAA license. Ultimately, the bowl remained in the BCS, but the NCAA placed it on probation and fined it $1 million. Junker was fired in March 2011 after 20 years as the bowl's chief executive.

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