FORMER Bacolod City Councilor Carlos Jose Lopez pleaded not guilty to the accusations filed against him in criminal charges for three counts of usurpation of official functions before the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division.

It was stated in an order dated August 29 signed by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, chairperson, and Associate Justices Zaldy Trespese and Bayani Jacinto.

It added that the parties and their counsels are ordered to attend the preliminary conference before the Division Clerk of Court on September 11 and 18 at the Sandiganbayan Library to mark the documents or exhibits to be presented by the parties.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered the pre-trial of the cases under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code set on October 6, 8:30 a.m.

The case was in relation to the complaint filed by former Mayor Monico Puentevella on June 3, 2014 with the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, which was supplemented by the supplemental affidavit filed by the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman-Iloilo Regional Office on March 19, 2015 against Lopez for issuing truck ban exemptions to certain truck companies and individuals operating within the city.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales signed the order on September 16, finding Lopez administratively guilty of grave misconduct and is meted a penalty of dismissal from the service together with its accessory penalties.

The Ombudsman also found probable cause to indict Lopez in relation to the criminal case for three counts of usurpation of official functions.