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updated 10/21/2010 4:04:29 PM ET 2010-10-21T20:04:29

Eight current and former officials have pleaded not guilty to looting millions of dollars from California's modest blue-collar city of Bell.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hilleri G. Merritt ordered them to return to court Dec. 8 for a preliminary hearing. None of the eight, including Bell's mayor, vice mayor and ousted city manager spoke in court Thursday except to say "yes" when Merritt asked if they were agreeable to the hearing date.

The not guilty pleas were entered by their attorneys.

An additional hearing was scheduled for Friday for one of the defendants, Councilman George Mirabal, so his lawyer could discuss pretrial motions. A scheduling conflict kept Mirabal's chief attorney from appearing in court with him Thursday.

Only two of the defendants, Mirabal and former Councilman Victor Bello, are still in custody.

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