OAKLAND -- BART station agent George Figueroa pleaded not guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report for allegedly inaccurately claiming that he had been attacked by a BART customer.

At a brief hearing, Figueroa's attorney Ted Cassman declined to waive Figueroa's right to a speedy trial, so Alameda County Superior Court Judge Patrick Zika set a trial on the charge for Aug. 2.

Figueroa, who is out of custody, wasn't required to attend Monday's hearing but he came to court anyway and conferred with Cassman outside Zika's courtroom.

Cassman declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

According to BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost, Figueroa claimed he had been hit by a BART patron at an Oakland station on June 8.

He filed the police report as contract negotiations between BART and its unions were heating up, and Trost said Figueroa had claimed the alleged attack was an example of the safety issues BART employees face.

But Trost said a videotape of the incident showed that the BART patron never hit Figueroa.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office later charged him with misdemeanor filing of a false police report.

Leaders of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, and Service International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics and clerical workers, have highlighted safety as a key issue for employees in their contract talks with management. The stalled talks led to the BART strike last week.

But Trost, who was not available for comment this morning, alleged when the charges were filed that the unions were using safety as a "fake issue" to drum up support for other demands related to pay and benefits.



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