PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The banker accused of setting off Rhode Island's banking crisis last year pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a 47-count indictment.

Joseph Mollicone Jr., 48, who resurfaced in April after more than a year in hiding, entered the plea in Rhode Island Superior Court amid tight security.

He has been charged with embezzlement, bank fraud, and conspiracy in the disappearance of some $15.8 million from Heritage Loan and Investment Co., which he formerly headed.

The bank's collapse in 1990 brought down its private insurer, the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corp., triggering the state's worst banking crisis since the Depression.

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