Ex-soccer boss in Americas pleads not guilty to U.S. bribery charges

Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:26pm EST
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former high-ranking soccer official in the Americas pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme at the heart of a U.S. investigation into corruption in the sport's world governing body.

Alfredo Hawit of Honduras, a former FIFA vice president who also led the North and Central America and Caribbean confederation, CONCACAF, entered his plea in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, after being extradited from Switzerland.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy began considering bail for Hawit at the court hearing and will resume on Thursday. Hawit will be detained until then.

Hawit, 64, was among 41 people and entities charged in the U.S. and Swiss probe into soccer corruption spanning the globe, with federations in the Americas the hardest hit so far.

Twelve people and two sports marketing companies have pleaded guilty.

At Wednesday's hearing, prosecutor Amanda Hector said Hawit should post a $4 million secured bond before being released, citing what she called his "significant" risk of flight and the high bail for other defendants.

Justin Weddle, Hawit's lawyer, countered that a $1 million unsecured bond was enough, saying his client was neither wealthy nor a flight risk.

"This is not the type of person who can melt away and disappear," Weddle said.   Continued...

A security guard is seen inside the National Football Federation head office of Honduras (FENAFUTH), in Tegucigalpa, Honduras December 3, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera