By Associated Press - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A community activist and former mayoral candidate decided against pleading guilty to charges that he fought with a neighbor and police who then tried to arrest him.

Abdula Jamal “A.J.” Richardson will instead stand trial next month in the case, the latest in an ongoing series of legal troubles, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ( ) reported.

Richardson is accused of entering the neighbor’s home without permission on Sept. 3, yelling at the man and poking him under the eye, before running away. Police said they arrived to find Richardson drunk, combative and refusing to answer their questions.

Richardson’s defense attorney has downplayed it as a disagreement that got out of hand.

The public defender had struck a deal to have his client plead guilty to charges including aggravated assault, until Richardson told Allegheny County Judge Anthony Mariani, “Your honor, everything that I was charged with, I didn’t do.”

“If that’s your position, let’s go to trial,” Mariani responded, setting a court date for Sept. 2.

Richardson was returned to the Allegheny County Jail after Monday’s court appearance because he’s also charged, along with his wife, with making more than 100 bogus 911 calls in an apparent attempt to make it appear he was being persecuted by city police.

Richardson had contacted media outlets to claim he and his family hadn’t made the calls over several weeks before his arrest in April, and to complain that police were abrasive and rude when they responded.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. has said phone records confirm the calls were made using phones controlled by Richardson or his family. Richardson, who is black, has maintained the charges are driven by police or racial bias.

Richardson ran in last year’s Democratic mayoral primary, finishing a distant fourth and drawing less than 1 percent of the vote. Weeks before that election, he was charged with drunken driving after three officers found him slumped over the wheel of his minivan.

Police said Richardson berated the officers - all of whom were black - for being “subservient to the white man.” He later calied the charges a “feeble attempt to discredit me” before reversing course, apologizing and eventually pleading guilty.


Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

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