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Former Shelley Fundraiser Pleads Not Guilty On Federal Fraud Charges

Sacramento, CA — A San Francisco real estate agent who was one of former California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley´s top political fundraisers pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges stemming from allegations that she illegally diverted $125,000 in state funds to Shelley´s campaign coffers.

Julie Lee, 58, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Sacramento a day after a grand jury indicted her on four counts of mail fraud and three counts of attempted witness tampering.

She also has pleaded not guilty to state grand theft and embezzlement charges stemming from the same alleged misuse of public money.

In 2000, when Shelley was majority leader of the state Assembly, he helped arrange a $500,000 grant to a nonprofit agency founded by Lee for building a community center that would provide bilingual education and other services for youth and seniors.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer´s office has alleged the group disbursed $168,750 to five individuals and businesses for work related to the center, which was never built. Each of the recipients gave to Shelley´s campaign in amounts similar to checks they received from the Lee´s nonprofit.

Federal prosecutors say she used the money to make political donations to Shelley´s 2002 campaign for secretary of state, then attempted to cover up her misuse of the funds by creating false and misleading documents, according to the indictment.