A former referee involved in Italy’s controversial elimination from the 2002 World Cup was caught at New York’s Kennedy Airport smuggling heroin, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Byron Moreno late Monday after he arrived in New York on a commercial flight from his native Ecuador.

During a routine inspection, Moreno “became visibly nervous.” A customs agent felt “hard objects on the defendant’s stomach, back and both of his legs,” the complaint said. A strip search revealed that the lumps were ten clear plastic bags, containing more than ten pounds of heroin, it said.

The judge jailed Moreno without bail on a drug smuggling charge. “I’m looking into the circumstances that led to this unfortunate situation,” Moreno’s attorney, Michael Padden, said on Tuesday.

So who is this Moreno and why are you glad this happened to him? (If you’re Italian at the very least)

Moreno was the referee who enraged Italian fans in the 2002 World Cup when he ejected star player Francesco Totti, giving the Italian a second yellow card for an alleged dive in the penalty area 13 minutes into overtime of a 2-1 loss to South Korea in the World Cup’s second round.

A 111th-minute goal by Italy’s Damiano Tommasi that would have advanced the team was disallowed, apparently for offside, and South Korea was awarded a penalty kick – that goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saved – for a foul by Christian Panucci against Seol Ki-Hyeon.

In 2003, Ecuadorean soccer officials suspended Moreno for 20 games after a match there drew complaints about him from both teams. He added 11 minutes of stoppage time to a game between domestic clubs Barcelona and Liga de Quito without recording it.

He resigned a short time later.

Moreno also refereed the United States’ opening 3-2 upset of Portugal at the 2002 World Cup.

Treez: Bottom line is that this guy was a shitty ref, O.K….Is this fair karma for being a bad referee? I don’t know, but who am I to judge? Prison is going to suck, buddy!! Peace!

prma