A 25-year-old former security guard pleaded not guilty Friday to charges stemming from an alleged fundraising scam to dupe people into thinking they were donating money for the young daughter of a slain Escondido police officer.
Sami Ahmed Saeed pleaded not guilty to nine charges of financial fraud and identity theft. Saeed remains in jail in lieu of $225,000 bail.
Saeed did not know Officer Laura Perez, and there is no indication that any money would have gone to her 4-year-old daughter, prosecutors said.
No money was raised by the website before Saeed was arrested at his home in Escondido and the site taken down, police said.
Saeed is also suspected of setting up a phony fundraising site for a young cancer victim, police said.
When he was arrested, Saeed was already facing a charge of stealing cellular telephones from shoppers. He was fired as a security guard at a mall, the lead prosecutor told reporters after the hearing in the Vista branch of San Diego County Superior Court.
Perez, 25, a rookie officer, was found dead July 24. Her husband, Freddy Perez-Rodas, 27, was arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting Perez and then setting fire to their home in Murrieta in Riverside County.
Saeed reportedly had worked as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq.