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Associated Press Writer

A sheriff pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal conspiracy and money laundering charges stemming from accusations that he took bribes in exchange for promising not to interfere with a cockfighting ring.
Acting U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley announced 22 charges Thursday against Page County Sheriff Daniel Presgraves. In addition to the accusations that he took bribes from operators of the Little Boxwood cockfighting pit, the indictment accuses Presgraves of trying to coerce witnesses and sexually assaulting and harassing a dozen female employees.
The sheriff pleaded not guilty at a court appearance that afternoon and was released on $50,000 bond. U.S. Magistrate B. Waugh Crigler ordered Presgraves not to act as sheriff while the case is pending. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 304 years behind bars.
"It's a very sad day when we have to stand before you to report that a federal grand jury has found sufficient cause to return an indictment against an elected public official," Dudley said.
Presgraves also is charged with taking bribes from a local corporation, which officials refused to identify. Authorities also claim he diverted public money for his own use and used inmates to work on his private property.
The sheriff's attorney, David Barger, said he plans to mount a vigorous defense.
The grand jury also separately indicted Chester William Fannon of Middleburg and the Virginia Game Fowl Breeders Association for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions to candidates for public office. Fannon is the president of the association. Fannon also pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon and was released on $50,000 bond.
According to the indictment, Fannon made contributions using his personal funds and was later illegally reimbursed by the association. Fannon is accused of making more than $11,000 in illegal contributions to various candidates.

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