A former California prison counselor pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges that he lied to the FBI during an international anti-terrorism investigation.
Brian Arthur Dempsey, 48, entered his plea in a federal court in Sacramento.
He was extradited from the United Kingdom last Friday after a 3 1/2-year legal battle, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.
Dempsey lived in Sacramento and from 2001 to 2012 he was a youth counselor for the juvenile justice division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Prosecutors said that in 2013, Dempsey, an convert to Islam, flew to Syria to join Islamic militant fighters in that country and stayed for less than two months before trying to fly home. He was detained by an FBI agent at an airport in Rome, where he was stopped because he was on a no-fly list.
He is accused of lying to an FBI agent by falsely claiming he had gone to Syria to help refugees. He was arrested in the United Kingdom in 2017.
If convicted, Dempsey could face up to eight years in federal prison.