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      Middleman pleads 'not guilty' in Abel Limas corruption case

      Jose Manuel Longoria

      A man accused of helping a disgraced former South Texas judge take bribes has pleaded not guilty on charges of extortion, wire fraud and cocaine possession.

      Jose Manuel Longoria's plea came during his arraignment Tuesday in Brownsville.

      Prosecutors allege the 52-year-old acted as an intermediary for state District Judge Abel C. Limas, securing payments from parties looking for favorable rulings in Limas' court.

      Limas pleaded guilty March 31 to racketeering. He lost his 2008 re-election bid in Cameron County, near the Mexico border.

      Longoria, of San Benito, also faces a wire fraud count involving $1,800 allegedly sent from Arkansas on behalf of a person on probation.

      He also has been charged with conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine.

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