- U.S. expects to bring new charges in ‘broad’ investigation
- Judge laments slow pace of case, sees trial next year
A prosecutor in charge of a sprawling U.S. investigation of corruption at FIFA said the probe, which has already ensnared 40 people and two companies, was “ongoing” and more arrests are possible.
“It is quite active and quite broad,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Norris said of the investigation at a hearing Wednesday in Brooklyn, New York.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who’s presiding over the case, told lawyers he’d like to schedule a trial next year, either in September or October.
“This could go on and on and on,” said Dearie, adding that it’s been more than a year since the case was filed in May 2015. “There has to be an end.”
When asked whether prosecutors planned to file a revised indictment in the case and add new crimes, Norris said he expects “to bring additional charges” and that the government is also “considering” whether to charge more people. The U.S. last added 16 people, including former FIFA executive committee members, to the case in a new 92-count indictment in December.
Brayan Jimenez, the former head of the Guatemalan soccer federation who was among the 16, pleaded guilty last week to racketeering conspiracy and wire-fraud conspiracy. He admitted to negotiating and accepting bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for helping award media and marketing contracts to a Florida company for the Guatemalan national soccer team’s 2018 and 2022 home World Cup qualifier matches.
Norris said the government is still sifting through the reams of evidence collected from around the world as part of the case. Prosecutors turned over about six million pages of material to defense lawyers in July, he said.
Federal investigators are also still reviewing hundreds of thousands of other documents produced after Paraguay officials searched the headquarters of CONMEBOL, the South American soccer federation based in Asuncion, Paraguay, at the request of American officials.
Dearie pressed prosecutors to “move this thing along” without further delay.
“I’m not a magician,” the judge said.
The case is U.S. V. Webb, 15-cr-00252, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Manhattan).