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Costa Rica's ex-football chief Eduardo Li gets house arrest

NEW YORK — A New York judge agreed to a house arrest arrangement Wednesday for Eduardo Li, former president of the Costa Rican Football Federation charged in the FIFA corruption case, in exchange for a $5 million deposit.

U.S. District Court judge Robert Levy, who earlier turned down bail for Li saying he was too great a flight risk, accepted a defense proposal that included $1.1 million in cash and guarantees of two U.S. properties as security that he would remain in the United States to face fraud and money laundering charges.

Li’s house arrest will begin once the conditions are met, with another hearing on the matter set for March 8 if necessary.

Conditions include that Li remain in the New York area, monitored by an electronic bracelet and 24-hour video surveillance. Li also surrendered his passport to the FBI.

The 57-year-old Costa Rican was arrested in Zurich last May 27 at the outbreak of the FIFA corruption scandal and was extradited to the United States last December. He has said he is innocent of the charges.

Levy’s decision came despite a demand from federal prosecutors of a deposit of $10 million to $15 million, with at least $5 million each in cash and property guarantees.

Li is the only defendant extradited to the United States or who surrendered to U.S. authorities who remains in jail. He has been held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, since his extradition.

The FIFA scandal involves 39 people, mostly high-ranking football officials and employees of sports marketing firms. Twelve have pleaded guilty, agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a possible reduction of sentence, with 27 others currently on trial.

The spiraling scandal at world football’s governing body FIFA has led to the suspension of president Sepp Blatter from the game, with the election of a new president set to take place on Friday in Switzerland.

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