Ex FIFA vice president pleads not guilty in corruption case

By Jake Pearson


NEW YORK _ A former FIFA vice-president and interim president of the North and Central American and Caribbean governing body CONCACAF pleaded not guilty Wednesday in New York, one week after he was extradited from Switzerland where he had been held since his arrest last month in a sprawling corruption case.

An attorney entered the plea for Alfredo Hawit, 64, who stood before Magistrate Judge Robert Levy in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn wearing a navy blue blazer and listening through a translator.

The Honduras native, who served as interim president of CONCACAF from June until his Dec. 3 arrest, has been charged with taking bribes, conspiracy to obstruct justice and other crimes in connection with a $200 million case involving more than 40 people from around the world that has rocked the sport.

He and other top CONCACAF officials awarded marketing rights to the Gold Cup and other events in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to an indictment. He also instructed co-defendants to hide bribes and lie to federal investigators when the charges first became public last year, the court papers charged.

His bail conditions weren’t set.

Justin Weddle, Hawit’s attorney, argued for lenient bail conditions, telling Levy his client was suffering from pancreatitis, had been subsisting on Corn Flakes and honey while detained in Switzerland and had few if any assets to offer up as security for a bond. He asked that Hawit be allowed to live with his daughter and granddaughter in Miami.

“This defendant is not a wealthy defendant,” Weddle said. “He’s not the type of person who can kind of slink away and disappear.”

Prosecutors have asked for $500,000 security on a $4 million bond, arguing Hawit is a flight risk who could live in home confinement with his daughter in Miami should he get co-signers to offer up collateral among other conditions.

He’ll appear again in court Thursday.

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