Yesterday, FC Barcelona star Javier Mascherano was found guilty on two counts of tax evasion totaling approximately $1.2 million. Mascherano accepted his punishment Thursday in a hearing that reportedly lasted 10 minutes. He was given a one-year prison sentence by the Court of Barcelona.
In the Spanish legal system, many crimes with prison sentences of two years or less (that are non-violent) provide the option of a fine to avoid jail time. Mascherano is expected to pay 625,000 euros, or approximately $676,740. Mascherano previously admitted to his offenses last year, and he reportedly paid back the fraudulent amount with interest (roughly $1.73 million).
Mascherano is blaming "a prestigious Spanish tax firm" that he hired from 2010-2014 for the offenses. "I'm a professional athlete, I have no extensive knowledge of tax and legal issues," he wrote on social media. "Therefore, I must lean on professionals who handle these technical issues, that they're complex for me."
Mascherano, whose salary pays him $6 million annually, says he has "the right to take actions against those advisors who mismanaged my affairs and recommended me things that were not legal."
The story of Spanish soccer stars and tax fraud is far from over. Mascherano's Barcelona teammate and fellow Argentinian, Lionel Messi, faces his own tax fraud trial May 31-June 3 in Barcelona.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.