Psomiadis Convicted of Soccer Fixing

Two years after being apprehended, a 58-year-old businessman who owned the Greek soccer club Kavala that was kicked out of professional leagues has been convicted of fixing matches.

A court on Dec. 5 sentenced former nightclub owner and newspaper publisher Makis Psomiadis to four-and-a-half years in prison after convicting him on charges of attempted blackmail and bribery. He was cleared on more serious charges of forming a criminal organization.

Psomiadis has served a total of two years in pre-trial detention and was allowed to pay a fine for the remainder of his sentence, but he remained in prison to await trial on separate corruption changes.

Kavala was promoted to the topflight league in 2009 and reached the semifinals of the Greek Cup the following year under Psomiadis, who was known for a big mustache, bigger cigars and a long history of run-ins with both the league and the law.

That included charges of gold smuggling, embezzlement, blackmail, tax evasion and even a role in torture squads during Greece’s notorious right-wing Junta of the 1970’s.

He became a fugitive from justice in 2011 after he was charged in match-fixing. When he was apprehended two and a half months later, a judge promptly released him, even though he was also accused of failing to pay 300,000 euros in taxes.

When an uproar prompted the courts to call Psomiadis back, he disappeared again, but not before announcing, “I am a political prisoner.” The judge, before questioning Psomiadis, read a statement the defendant handed him decrying the accusations. He wasn’t on the lam too long.

Later that year, Psomiadis was arrested at a cafeteria in FYROM, near the Greek consulate. Authorities said he was staying with a former player.