A former Los Angeles County employee, who was the chief station engineer at the Pitchess Cogeneration Plant in the Castaic area, pleaded not guilty Friday to one felony count each of bribery and conflict of interest.

Yuri Garabekyan, an ex-employee of the county’s Internal Services Department, allegedly used his position to steer million-dollar contracts to a friend’s company to advance his own financial interests, according to Los Angeles County prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege that the vice president of Heat Transfer Solutions — with whom Garbekyan reportedly had a personal relationship — bought real estate in Nevada from the defendant two months after the company was awarded a $1.4 million contract in July 2010.

A second contract for $1.2 million was awarded to Heat Transfer Solutions in July 2011, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The alleged crimes were uncovered as a result of an investigation by the county’s Auditor Controller’s Office’s Office of County Investigations, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Garabekyan, 63, of Glendale is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Sept. 29.

If convicted of the two charges, he could face up to four years in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

–City News Service

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