Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim was charged in a 24-count federal indictment Wednesday with racketeering, extortion, bribery, mail fraud and conspiracy.

Ganim, 42, was accused of seeking more than $425,000 in bribes — including cash, merchandise, services and meals — in return for steering city business to friends and associates.

An hour after the indictment was announced, Ganim told a news conference in Bridgeport: “I’m being falsely accused. I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve never taken one dime as a part of a conspiracy. Nor have I ever authorized anyone to take money on my behalf.”

He added: “I would never, never quit on this city or the people of Bridgeport.”

Nine people, including several close associates of Ganim and one business, have pleaded guilty since June to federal charges ranging from racketeering and bribery to fraud.

The defendants, including a Democratic Party fund-raiser, Ganim’s former campaign manager and a college friend, have admitted seeking or paying bribes to win favorable treatment on contracts.

Ganim, once considered a top contender for governor in 2002, is serving his fifth term as mayor of the state’s largest city. The job pays $106,591 a year.

Ganim was issued a citation to appear in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Friday. U.S. Attorney John A. Danaher III said he does not believe Ganim is a flight risk, but he will seek an “appropriate” bond.

Ganim said he would plead innocent.

Republican Gov. John G. Rowland urged Ganim to resign.

“The people of Bridgeport are fighting a winning battle to restore their city,” Rowland said. “They cannot afford to be swept up in the swirl of a mayor fighting serious corruption charges.”

–Associated Press