WASHINGTON – Univision Services Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Univision Communications Inc., pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain increased radio broadcast time, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S Attorney André Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California.
According to court documents, Univision Communications formerly owned Univision Music Group, a collection of entities that produced recordings and published music for the Latin music market. Univision Services admitted that executives, employees and agents of Univision Music Group conspired to commit and did commit mail fraud from approximately 2002 to September 2006. According to court documents, the mail fraud was related to a nationwide scheme in which Univision Music Group executives, employees and agents made illegal cash payments to radio station programmers and managers in exchange for increased radio broadcast time for Univision Music Group recordings. The cash payments were made without on-air acknowledgments or payment of broadcast fees to the radio stations, as required by law.
According to court documents, executives, music promoters and agents of Univision Music Group used fraudulent contract invoices and payments to obtain and conceal the nature of the cash that funded the scheme.
"Illegal cash payments never make for a good business model. Listeners have a right to know if someone has paid for increased air time or promotions," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with our partners at the FCC to ensure businesses operate within established laws and regulations."
Under its plea agreement, Univision Communications, which is no longer involved in the Latin music recording and publishing business, agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, to pay a fine of $500,000 and to cooperate fully with the department and other law enforcement agencies in related matters.
In a related administrative proceeding, Univision Radio Inc., another wholly-owned subsidiary of Univision Communications, has agreed to pay the U.S. Treasury $500,000 and implement a compliance plan to end a parallel investigation by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Enforcement Bureau.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Peter B. Loewenberg of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, Richard Robinson. The investigation was conducted by the Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FCC Office of Inspector General.