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Ex-Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi Gets 3 Years in Prison

Rep. Rick Renzi

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Congressman Rick Renzi of Arizona was sentenced Monday in Tucson to three years in prison for extortion, bribery, insurance fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

His co-defendant, James Sandlin, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for his role.

Renzi, 55, of Burke, Va., and Sandlin, 62, of Sherman, Texx. were convicted in June. Renzi was found guilty of 17 felony counts and Sandlin of 13.

“Mr. Renzi abused the power – and the corresponding trust – that comes with being a member of Congress by putting his own financial interests over the interests of the citizens he had sworn to serve,” Acting Assistant Attorney General  Mythili Raman said in a statement. “He fleeced his own insurance company to fund his run for Congress, and then exploited his position for personal gain. Mr. Renzi’s conviction and today’s sentence demonstrate the Justice Department’s commitment to fighting corruption at the highest levels of government.”

A Justice Department press release stated:

According to evidence at trial, Renzi, then a member of Congress from Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, promised in 2005 to use his legislative influence to profit from a federal land exchange that involved property owned by Sandlin, a real-estate investor.

At the time, Sandlin owed Renzi $700,000 in future payments from their business dealings, and Renzi threatened proponents of the land exchange that he would not support it unless they purchased Sandlin’s property in Cochise County, Ariz. When they refused, Renzi promised a second proponent of a land exchange that he would support the exchange if they purchased Sandlin’s property. According to an agreement reached in May 2005, Sandlin was paid $1 million in earnest money, out of which he paid $200,000 to Renzi. Just before Sandlin received the $1.6 million balance owed on the exchange, he paid an additional $533,000 to Renzi.

Evidence at trial further showed that from 2001 to 2003, Renzi engaged in insurance fraud by diverting his clients’ insurance premiums to fund his first campaign for Congress, and he subsequently sent false letters to his insurance customers and provided false statements to various state regulators who were investigating his activities.

 

 

 


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