Closing arguments set at bribery trial

PHOENIX - Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday at the trial of a former elected Arizona utility regulator charged with accepting bribes from a water company owner in exchange for favorable decisions.

Former Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce is accused of accepting $31,000 in bribes that authorities say were made on behalf of water company owner George Johnson, and of trying to get Johnson to buy him a $350,000 piece of land.
    
In exchange, prosecutors said Pierce voted for a rate increase that benefited the water company and approved a measure that lets the firm's owner use ratepayer money to pay his personal income tax bill.
    
Pierce, Johnson and two other people accused in the case dispute the allegations and have pleaded not guilty to charges.
    
The trial began a month ago.

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