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Three plead not guilty in Capital case

Dean Kirkland, the one-time super-salesman for Capital Consultants, pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to giving illegal gratuities to union officials, including his own father.

Kirkland helped persuade dozens of union clients to invest millions of dollars in the now defunct Capital Consultants, which lost more than $350 million in union retirement and health funds.

Minutes before his plea, his father, Gary Kirkland, pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of accepting gifts and other gratuities from his son Ñ including fishing trips to Alaska. The older Kirkland is a former executive officer of the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 11.

Local 11 lost an estimated $11 million of its 401(k), health and welfare funds invested in Capital Consultants. Under the older Kirkland's oversight, Local 11 investment in Capital skyrocketed from 1996 to 2000, expanding into real estate and unsecured loans.

Capital was seized by federal regulators in September 2000, and its assets were liquidated.

Another former client of Dean Kirkland, former International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers trustee Robert Legino of Colorado, also pleaded not guilty Thursday in the same courtroom.

Judge Donald Ashmanskas set a Nov. 5 trial date for the three men.

The three were released on their own recognizance after visiting the U.S. marshal's office in a booking process that took three hours.

Debbie Sluyter, who defeated the elder Kirkland in a contentious election for leadership of Local 11, went to the arraignment.

'We want to make sure justice is served for all the pain and suffering caused,' she said. 'We hope he is punished for what he did.'

Sluyter said that when she took over Kirkland's office at Local 11's headquarters, all computer and personal files had been destroyed or removed.