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U.S. sports exec in plea talks in FIFA corruption case

Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 00:55

Aaron Davidson, the head of Traffic Group's U.S. unit, in court for the second time since the sweeping arrests of FIFA officials in May. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Aaron Davidson, the only person arrested in the U.S. during the FIFA corruption probe by U.S. authorities, spent his second day in court on Friday (July 17). Davidson, who was indicted along with 13 other people in a U.S. corruption case that has rocked the soccer world, was silent during a brief hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court. The former head of Traffic Group's U.S. unit in Miami has since his arrest in May been "actively engaged in plea negotiations," prosecutors said in a letter filed in the court earlier in the week. In his first court appearance immediately after his arrests, Davidson pleaded not guilty. Separately on Friday, the U.S. prosecutor confirmed that former FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb has arrived in the United States to face criminal charges after his extradition from Switzerland. Prosecutor Evan Norris said during a court hearing in Brooklyn, New York, that he did not know when Webb would make his first appearance in court to hear the charges against him and enter a plea. Webb, a Cayman Islands national, was arrested in May in Zurich, along with six other current and former FIFA officials, as U.S. authorities announced a sweeping investigation of corruption in soccer. He later agreed not to fight extradition from Switzerland. A U.S. lawyer for Webb, who was also president of the CONCACAF regional soccer federation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. U.S. authorities are seeking the extradition of the six other officials from Switzerland, as well as defendants from other countries. Norris said during the hearing that he did not know how long the Swiss process would take because the defendants could seek lengthy appeals in courts there. U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie said it was too soon to set a trial date for Webb or Davidson. The indictment unsealed by U.S. prosecutors charged soccer officials and marketing executives with exploiting the sport for their own gain through bribes of more $150 million over 24 years. U.S. and Swiss authorities say they are continuing with parallel investigations of the sport. A U.S. trial, likely months away, could happen before all the defendants have arrived on U.S. soil, the judge said. The U.S. Constitution guarantees defendants a "speedy" trial. "Somebody's going to insist on their trial, and at some point, we're going to have to accommodate them," Dearie said.

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U.S. sports exec in plea talks in FIFA corruption case

Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 00:55