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Ex-aide to soccer federation leader pleads guilty in scandal

May 24, 2017 - 5:26 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A former aide to the president of one of soccer's six continental confederations pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single charge — money laundering conspiracy — in the sport's worldwide scandal.

Costas Takkas, 60, worked at CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football.

The case is part of a sprawling prosecution that triggered turmoil at FIFA, the governing body of international soccer

He entered the plea in Brooklyn federal court more than a year after he was extradited to the United States from Switzerland, where he had spent 10 months in prison after he was among seven soccer officials arrested in May 2015 at a Zurich hotel two days before the FIFA presidential election.

His attorney, Gordon Mehler, said outside court that Takkas was the only defendant who has been allowed to plead guilty to a single charge "because he is a very minor figure in this case."

The British citizen is the former secretary general of the Cayman Islands Football Association.

He was accused of demanding and accepting bribes of millions of dollars for then-CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb linked to the sale of marketing rights for World Cup qualifiers. Webb pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and awaits sentencing.

During his plea, Takkas told Judge Pamela K. Chen that he "consciously avoided knowing that these companies were giving Mr. Webb money in order to influence his actions as a football official."

He added that at Webb's direction, he transferred money electronically through banks in Florida and the Cayman Islands between 2012 and 2015.

A prosecutor said Takkas had agreed that federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of between 41 and 51 months in prison.

But Mehler said outside court that he will ask that Takkas, who is free on bail, not be required to spend any more time in prison, particularly because his incarceration in Switzerland was mostly in solitary confinement, "a very onerous detention."

Sentencing was set for Sept. 19.

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