April 10, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) A co-defendant of former NFL star Darren Sharper in Louisiana-based sexual assault cases pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court.

Brandon Licciardi faces multiple charges in the federal case. They include allegations that he and Sharper intended to commit rape when they distributed drugs to women. Licciardi also is accused of trying to obstruct the investigation and persuade a witness not to provide information.

He appeared briefly before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan to enter his not guilty plea. He and Sharper also face state charges.

Sharper has entered pleas of no contest or guilty in three other states where he was charged with drugging and sexually assaulting women. He's expected to enter pleas in state and federal courts in New Orleans in the coming weeks.

Licciardi, a former St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office deputy, is being held without bond in federal custody. His trial in the federal case is set for October. He also has pleaded not guilty to state charges of aggravated battery and human trafficking.

Sharper's multi-jurisdiction plea deal, expected to keep him behind bars for at least nine years, was announced last month.

Ralph Capitelli, Licciardi's defense attorney, had no comment on how Sharper's deal would affect his client.

In addition to Licciardi and Sharper, there is a third defendant in the Louisiana case. Erik Nunez has pleaded not guilty to aggravated rape and obstruction of justice in the state case and is being held on $1 million bond.

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