Jury picked at ex-Arizona regulator’s trial

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Authorities said George Johnson, left, funneled $31,000 to Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce Gary Pierce and his wife, bottom right, through lobbyist Jim Norton, top right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Authorities said George Johnson, left, funneled $31,000 to Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce Gary Pierce and his wife, bottom right, through lobbyist Jim Norton, top right. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Gary Pierce and his wife with their legal team. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Gary Pierce and his wife with their legal team. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Arizona lobbyist Jim Norton used to work at a political consulting firm. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona lobbyist Jim Norton used to work at a political consulting firm. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (AP) -

A jury has been picked at the trial of a former elected Arizona utility regulator charged with accepting bribes from a water company owner in exchange for favorable decisions.

Attorneys are scheduled to make opening statements Thursday at the trial of former Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce.

[RELATED: Ex-Arizona regulator charged with bribery heads to trial]

[RELATED: Several big names on witness list in corruption trial involving Johnson Utilities]

Authorities say Pierce took $31,000 in bribes funneled to him from water company owner George Johnson and tried to get Johnson to buy him a $350,000 piece of land.

In exchange, prosecutors said Pierce voted for a rate increase that benefited the water company and approved a measure that lets the firm’s owner use ratepayer money to pay his personal income tax bill.

[READ MORE: Ex-AZ Corp. Commissioner, owner of Johnson Utilities indicted on bribery charges]

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]

Pierce, his wife, Sherry, Johnson and lobbyist Jim Norton have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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