Carpet-cleaning entrepreneur Barry Minkow pleaded innocent Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court to fraud and money-laundering charges.
Appearing briefly in the morning, Minkow, 21, said, "Not guilty, sir," when asked by U.S. Magistrate John Kronenberg to enter a plea. Nine others named in the 54-court indictment returned last week also pleaded innocent.
Mark Roddy, the other man named in the indictment, did not enter a plea because he was in custody on an unrelated case in Texas. Another defendant, Eugene Lasko, who was named in a separate criminal charge, pleaded innocent to conspiracy.
Minkow, who turned a garage-based operation into a $200-million business, is accused of defrauding banks and investors by leading them to believe the ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning company was making millions from an insurance restoration business. Federal prosecutors contend that while the carpet-cleaning work was legitimate, the restoration business was almost completely bogus.
Later in the day, U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr. reduced Minkow's bail from $2 million to $1.5 million, with a $200,000 cash deposit. But defense attorney Donald Re said Minkow likely will remain in custody because he has no money to meet the cash deposit required.
Trial was scheduled for March 8.