Mayor James Santangelo pleaded not guilty last week to a conflict-of-interest charge involving his 1984 vote on a redevelopment project area in which he owned property.
The plea was entered by his attorney, Leo P. Newton, at an arraignment in Downey Municipal Court one week after Downey Municipal Judge Donald L. Wilson disqualified himself, as did all of the judges in the Downey court, from hearing the case.
Wilson asked the state Judicial Council to assign an outside judge to hear the case because of Santangelo's "close relationship to the community," according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Herbert Lapin.
Lapin explained that a judge may disqualify himself from a case when there is a possible bias involved, but he said that Wilson did not explain why the judges disqualified themselves from the case.
A pretrial hearing was set for Jan. 12 and a jury trial was set for Feb. 16.