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Firm opposes subpoena in bribery case against ex-regulator

Utility owner George Johnson, who is accused in a bribery scheme, leaves U.S. District Court in Phoenix on June 7, 2017.

Utility owner George Johnson, who is accused in a bribery scheme, leaves U.S. District Court in Phoenix on June 7, 2017.

A water company whose owner is charged with bribing a former Arizona utility regulator is opposing a subpoena that orders the Corporation Commission to turn over records as part of the criminal case.

Lawyers for Johnson Utilities say the records are related to its rate case before the commission and are confidential and irrelevant to the criminal case.

Authorities say then-Commissioner Gary Pierce voted in 2011 to let George Johnson’s company request that Johnson’s personal income taxes be covered by the utility’s customers if regulators were to allow such a practice in the future.

Pierce also is accused of taking bribes to push rate increases through the commission.

Pierce, his wife Sherry, Johnson and lobbyist Jim Norton have pleaded not guilty to bribery and fraud charges.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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