Highland Park School Board member Robert Davis has been arraigned on charges he stole $125,000 from the financially struggling district.
The 32-year-old Davis stood mute during Friday's arraignment. U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Davis is accused of getting the money through two schemes by using cover companies to submit false invoices to the district and is charged with 16 counts of unlawful conversion of program funds.
In an interview with Local 4, Davis said he's not guilty and called the case politically motivated.
"I totally respect the process. We're going to go through the process. Certainly, I'm going to continue to fight," he said. "I'm looking forward to clearing my name."
He was freed on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison plus a $250,000 fine.
One of Davis' defense attorneys is Carl Marlinga, who was Macomb County Prosecutor in 2004 when he was indicted in a campaign finance fraud charge. Marlinga went to trial in the same federal court and was found not-guilty.
Davis has been involved in a legal challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law, saying the state has violated open meeting laws in the lead-up to takeovers of local communities.