Ouachita Co. judge pleads innocent to new charges

      EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) - Ouachita County Judge Mike Hesterly has pleaded not guilty to new charges handed down by a grand jury earlier this month.

      Hesterly was charged in January with bribery and conspiracy after federal prosecutors accused him of defrauding the federal government out of disaster relief funds following the 2009 tornado in Ouachita County.

      Earlier this month, a superseding indictment was filed that adds an additional bribery count and one count of making a false statement to authorities.

      The El Dorado News-Times ( ) reports that Hesterly and co-defendant Harry Clemons Jr. waived their right to an arraignment this week. Trial is set for Nov. 4.

      The indictment alleges that Hesterly awarded a disaster relief contract to Clemons in exchange for a campaign contribution. Both men have denied the allegations.

      Information from: El Dorado News-Times,

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