- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 5, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - A Phoenix-area state lawmaker accused of several crimes involving food stamps has pleaded not guilty.

Rep. Cecilia Velasquez entered her plea Tuesday to an indictment charging her with felony counts of fraud, theft and unlawful use of food stamps.

Her next court date is Aug. 17.

The Litchfield Park Democrat is serving her first term in the Arizona House. She dropped her re-election bid last month after being indicted.

If convicted of a felony, Velasquez would automatically be ineligible to hold office because she would lose her voting rights.

Velasquez said in a statement she intends to fight the charges and is confident she will prevail in court.

The indictment alleges Velasquez fraudulently obtained $1,726 in food stamp benefits between Nov. 1, 2013 and Jan. 31, 2015.

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