Michael Bolanos pleaded not guilty on Friday. He is free on bail, and expected in court in December.
He allegedly visited businesses across the San Francisco Bay Area, flashing a badge and official-looking documents.
Oakland police officers say he would investigate the premises, and list various trumped-up violations costing the owner thousands of dollars. Then he would offer to not report the infractions if he was paid a few hundred dollars on the spot.
He was arrested Nov.4. Ten victims have identified him so far but investigators believe there might be dozens of others.