Former state official pleads not guilty in bid rigging probe

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A former high-ranking official in California's veterans affairs department has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in an investigation of alleged bid rigging on public construction contracts.

Court records show Eric Worthen entered the plea on Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco. Worthen was a former assistant deputy secretary in the veterans affairs department.

Prosecutors say he and a second man, Taj Armon Reid, took $12,000 in bribes in exchange for agreeing to help an FBI informant posing as a developer win two state construction contracts.

Reid has also pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say the investigation that led to the indictment of Worthen, Reid, and six other people was prompted by an earlier probe that ensnared former California state Sen. Leland Yee and San Francisco Chinatown gang tough Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow.

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