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Former mortgage exec pleads not guilty to fraud

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A federal judge has set a November 1 trial date for the former head of a major mortgage lending company accused of scheming to steal more than half a billion dollars from the government’s financial bailout fund.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema set the date despite protests from Lee Bentley Farkas’ lawyer that it will be impossible for the defense to go through the millions of pages of documents in the case by that time.

Farkas pleaded not guilty Friday in Alexandria to charges including conspiracy, bank fraud and wire fraud in connection with the alleged plot at Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Corp.

Farkas still doesn’t have a permanent lawyer in the case because his assets have been frozen. However, the government is expected to unfreeze some of them so that he can pay for his defense.