- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on a fraud and bribery case involving a former Arizona utility regulator (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

A former elected Arizona utility regulator has pleaded not guilty to bribery and fraud charges accusing him of accepting payments from a water company owner in exchange for favorable treatment in a rate case.

Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce entered the pleas Wednesday during his first court appearance in the case.

Water company owner George Johnson, lobbyist Jim Norton and Pierce’s wife Sherry also pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Prosecutors say Pierce was funneled $31,000 and was the intended recipient of a $350,000 property in exchange for favorable votes for the company.

Johnson is accused of making the payments to Pierce and Pierce’s wife through Norton to help secure approval of higher rates for Johnson Utilities.

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6:50 a.m.

Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce is scheduled to be arraigned on bribery and fraud charges in what prosecutors say was a scheme to accept payments from a water company owner in exchange for favorable treatment in a utility rate case.

Arraignments also are scheduled Wednesday for water company owner George Johnson, Pierce’s wife Sherry and lobbyist Jim Norton on bribery and fraud charges.

An indictment says Gary Pierce voted in 2011 to let Johnson’s company request that Johnson’s personal income taxes be covered by the utility’s customers.

Pierce is accused of taking bribes to push rate increases through the commission.

Authorities say Pierce was funneled $31,000 in payments and was the intended recipient of a $350,000 property in exchange for favorable votes for the utility.

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