The mayor of New Jersey's largest suburb has pleaded not guilty to charges of extortion and money
laundering.

Hamilton Township Mayor John Bencivengo appeared before a federal judge in Trenton Thursday.

Federal prosecutors allege Bencivengo took $12,400 from a cooperating witness in exchange for using his influence over a health insurance contact with the township's school district.

Bencivengo's lawyer says the money was actually a loan from a friend.

Bencivengo became mayor of the Mercer County community in 2008 and was sworn in to a second term in January. Gov. Chris Christie has called on him to resign, but Bencivengo's lawyer says there's
no reason to.

Bencivengo remains free on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 5.

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