Former Utility Regulator to be Arraigned on Bribery Charge

PHOENIX (AP) – 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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