Several defendants charged in a wide-ranging corruption case involving Fifa are in negotiations with US officials about possibly pleading guilty, a U.S. prosecutor has revealed
Assistant US Attorney Evan Norris spoke at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court after US. District Judge Pamela Chen set a Nov. 6, 2017, trial date for seven former officials and one former marketing executive.
“We are in ongoing plea discussions with several of these defendants,” Norris said.
The eight defendants, who have all pleaded not guilty, are among the 42 individuals charged in the investigation into football’s governing body.
To date, 16 people and two sports marketing companies have pleaded guilty to US charges.
The eight defendants facing the potential trial next year include former Fifa officials and executive committee members Jose Maria Marin of Brazil, Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay, Eduardo Li of Costa Rica and Julio Rocha of Nicaragua. Others include Miami-based sports marketing executive Aaron Davidson, Hector Trujillo, a judge from Guatemala and ex-official with its football federation, former Cayman Islands football official Costas Takkas and ex-Venezuelan football official Rafael Esquivel.
In court on Monday, Norris said prosecutors were still reviewing hundreds of thousands of documents handed over after US officials asked their Paraguay counterparts to search the headquarters of CONMEBOL, the South American confederation based in Asuncion.
New evidence continues to come in, he said, including 24 binders of documents provided last week by Swiss authorities.
The plan to try all eight defendants together is expected to be challenged by lawyers for Napout, Takkas, Marin and Rocha, who said they would all file motions to have separate trials.
An attorney for Napout also said he would move for a quicker trial.
“Mr. Napout’s speedy trial rights are being severely hampered,” said John Pappalardo, Napout’s lawyer.
The case is listed as U.S. V. Webb, 15-cr-00252, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Manhattan). Jeffrey Webb, from the Cayman Islands, was president of the central and north American confederation CONCACAF and a vice-president of Fifa when he was detained in Zurich in May 2015.
He has indicated guilty pleas and is currently under house arrest at a property he owns in Georgia.
Jack Warner, his predecessor as CONCACAF president, and Nicolas Leoz, a former president of CONMEBOL, are fighting extradition applications in Trinidad & Tobago and Paraguay respectively.