PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — A restaurant owner charged with bribing former state House Speaker Gordon Fox pleaded not guilty Wednesday to paying the Democratic politician more than $50,000 to ensure his business got a liquor license.
Raymond Hugh, 48, was indicted by a grand jury last month on a single count of bribing a public official. Providence Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause set bail at $50,000 and ordered Hugh to limit his travel to within Rhode Island and Massachusetts. He recently began living in Bellingham, Massachusetts.
Hugh is accused of bribing Fox in 2008, when Fox sat on the Providence board of licenses and Hugh was seeking a liquor license for one of his restaurants, the Shark Sushi Bar and Grill. At the time, Fox was House majority leader.
Fox admitted in federal court this year that he took checks and cash worth more than $50,000 to help push through the license amid opposition by neighbors, including Brown University. The restaurant has since been sold.
Hugh told WPRI-TV after last month's indictment that he did not know why Fox called the money a bribe, and instead said he had hired Fox, a lawyer, to perform legal work for the Shark Bar.
Hugh's lawyer, Michael Lepizzera, would not comment after the court hearing Wednesday about the allegations.
"This case will play out in the only place where it is destined to play out, which is in the courtroom of our great judicial system," he said.
Fox became House speaker in 2010, but stepped down last year after his home and Statehouse office were raided as part of a federal and state corruption investigation. He struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors this year in which he pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, filing a false tax return and wire fraud for taking $108,000 out of his campaign account and using it for personal expenses.
Fox is now serving three years in federal prison.
The maximum sentence for bribing a public official in Rhode Island is 20 years.
Krause set Jan. 19 for the next hearing.