Eduardo Li’s bail request denied by New York judge

February 24, 2016
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Eduardo Li, the former Costa Rican Football Federation president, will be spending a bit more time in a New York prison.

His request to be released from preventive prison on bail was denied Wednesday when Judge Robert Levy of the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York ruled that he needed more guarantees from the defendant.

On Tuesday night, prosecutors requested that Li provide $10-$15 million in bail after Li’s side had offered the court $5 million, including $300,000 in cash, for bail. In a letter to Judge Levy, the prosecutors said that amount was “far below” Li’s net worth from the money he made while, they allege, he took in personal kickbacks and defrauded FIFA and the Costa Rican Football Federation.

“For the reasons set forth below, including the defendant’s significant personal wealth and the fact that Costa Rica does not extradite its nationals, the government respectfully submits that the defendant poses a serious risk of flight and should only be released pursuant to a $10 to $15 million bond,” the letter read.

Li’s lawyers offered Wednesday to mortgage more of his properties in Costa Rica to come up with the requested bail amount. Defense attorney Samuel Rosenthal said that it could financially ruin Li’s family if he was put in jail for a longer period of time.

The defense team has two weeks to come up with more guarantees to try and convince Judge Levy that Li wouldn’t try to flee to Costa Rica if let out on bail. Though Li’s side offered constant monitoring, forfeiture of his passport to authorities, and residence in an apartment located near the court, the judge deemed the guarantees insufficient to insure his appearance at future court proceedings.

Li will appear again in court on Feb. 23 where his attorneys are expected to offer a new set of bond guarantees for Judge Levy.

Li faces 19 charges, including wire fraud and money laundering for his alleged role in the FIFA scandal that has shaken up international football’s major governing body.

Li was named in a pair of indictments in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleged, among other charges, that he requested a six-figure bribe from sports media group Traffic USA to televise the Costa Rican national team in its World Cup 2022 qualifying matches.

After being arrested in Zurich, Switzerland on May 27 alongside other FIFA officials, Li spent nearly seven months in a Swiss prison. He was extradited to the U.S. on Dec. 18, 2015. He is the last of the indicted officials to remain locked up in the U.S.

Twelve of those indicted in the FIFA stings have already pleaded guilty while 27 others are still awaiting their fates at trial. Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter was recently barred from football for eight years, as was Michel Platini, the head of European football who was a likely candidate to succeed Blatter.

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