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OFFICIALS CLAIM ENTRAPMENT BY FBI IN BRIBE CASE

Two current and two former city councilmen contend the FBI used entrapment as a means to charge them with accepting bribes from undercover agents posing as investors wanting a piece of a hotel project.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday against former Councilmen Ben Reyes and John Peavy Jr.; current council members Michael J. Yarbrough and John Castillo; former Houston port commissioner Elizabeth "Betti" Maldonado; and lobbyist Ross C. Allyn.

All were charged with conspiracy and varying counts of bribery.

Conviction on all counts carries a minimum of 15 years and $500,000 in fines and up to 50 years and $1.5 million fines.

The charges were the result of a 10-month FBI sting in which an undercover agent and an unidentified person posed as minority investors looking to secure a share of a $155 million convention center and hotel project.

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