- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 3, 2017

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia businessman has denied accusations that he illegally made campaign contributions though his company’s employees.

News outlets report that 57-year-old James Laurita Jr. pleaded not guilty in federal court on Monday. A grand jury indicted him last month on six federal charges from 2010 to 2013.

The U.S. Justice Department says the former chief executive of mining company Mepco LLC used employees and their spouses as “straw” donors to give four individual candidates more than $25,000. That’s about five times more than the federal campaign limit for an individual.

The candidates aren’t identified in the indictment but it says they were running for U.S. Congress.

The Exponent Telegram reports that Laurita could face up to five years in prison if convicted. The trial is set for next month.

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