Guilty Pleas Expected in Fonovisa Payola Case

The promotions chief at Fonovisa, the leading independent label in the Latin music business, is expected to plead guilty to payola charges on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, sources said.

Jesus Gilberto Moreno, the first senior executive in the record industry ever to be successfully prosecuted under the 40-year-old payola statute, has agreed to pay a $50,000 fine and could be sentenced to as much as six months in jail, according to a plea agreement filed in court on Monday. The government charged Moreno with a misdemeanor payola count for paying cash to Spanish radio station deejays to obtain airplay for Fonovisa songs, court records show.

The Van Nuys-based record label, which is owned by Mexican media giant Grupo Televisa, is also expected to plead guilty Thursday to a felony tax count stemming from falsely reported promotional expenses. Fonovisa has agreed to pay a $700,000 fine for the tax violation, but could be charged more, according to the agreement. Fonovisa President Guillermo Santiso is also expected to plead guilty Thursday to a payola-related felony tax violation.

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