What started as a civil dispute over a Bakersfield Sikh temple’s ownership bled into a criminal matter as one of its owners — a candidate in last year’s City Council election — pleaded not guilty Friday to accusations he hatched a plan to have fellow temple members shot as a way of teaching them a lesson.

Rajvir Singh Gill, 60, charged Wednesday with seven felony counts of soliciting specific criminal acts, appeared in Kern County Superior Court out of custody Friday with his attorney Jared M. Thompson. The former Ward 7 candidate was ordered by a judge to stay away from four people while also keeping 500 feet away from the temple, Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji Khalsa Darbar.

You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @_ishanidesai on Twitter.