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Judge in court for bribery charges

July 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Los Angeles County superior court judge made an appearance in an Orange County courtroom, this time on the other side of the bench. Judge Harvey Silberman is facing felony charges. He is accused of trying to bribe his opponent in the 2008 race for his judicial seat to drop out.

The hearing had been postponed until Thursday so the case could be presided by a judge in a different county.

Political consultants Evelyn Alexander and Alan Steinberg are also accused of taking part in the alleged bribe.

According to a grand jury indictment, filed on June 24th and unsealed on July 8th, the defendants allegedly offered an $80,000 bribe to Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo to quit the race.

The indictment accuses them of: "Solicitation of money or valuable consideration to induce a person not to become a candidate for public office."

Sources close to the investigation say Murillo, despite being cash-strapped at the time of the election, refused the bribe and immediately reported it to authorities.

Silberman, who is a former court commissioner, eventually won the election by 5-percentage points.

As a court commissioner, he presided over the high-profile child custody hearings of actors Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen.

The 52 year old Silberman is on temporary paid leave pending resolution of the case.

The three defendants are scheduled to be back in court on September 10th.

If convicted, they could each face up to three years in state prison.

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