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Rep. Renzi indicted over Arizona land deal

I am pretty sure this is much like the people who are free from prison when DNA evidence says it would have been impossible for them to commit the crime. Only a very small percent of the people wrongly convicted are actually released.

I suspect that the inverse is true when it comes to government rules who take money and then give special interest groups government pork.

Lots of them do it but we only catch a small percent of our crooked rulers with their hand in the cookie jar stealing from us.


Rep. Renzi indicted over Arizona land deal

Robert Anglen and Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 22, 2008 09:44 AM

U.S. Rep Rick Renzi was indicted Friday morning on charges of extortion, wire fraud and money laundering related to a land deal in Arizona.

Authorities unsealed the 26-page federal indictment Friday accusing Renzi and two former business partners of conspiring to promote the sale of land that buyers could swap for property owned by the federal government. The sale netted one of Renzi's former partners $4.5 million.

The indictment charges Renzi, a three-term congressman, and business associate James Sandlin, 56, of Texas, with 27 counts of wire fraud, extortion, money laundering and conspiracies from real-estate transactions involving the two men.

Sandlin owed Renzi $700,000 in 2005 from a real estate deal. Renzi insisted that two separate entities doing business in Arizona purchase property from Sandlin in return for Renzi's support for legislation for a federal land exchange, the office said in a news release.

The indictment alleges that Renzi failed to disclose the $700,000 debt to either entity and failed to disclose to Congress his earnings from Sandlin, the release says.

Other counts charge that Renzi and another business associate, Andrew Beardall, 36, of Maryland, violated federal insurance laws by embezzling more than $400,000 in insurance premiums from a trust account of the Patriot Insurance Agency Inc. to fund Renzi's congressional campaign in 2001 and 2002. The Renzi family owns the Santa Cruz County business .

"Among the allegations contained in the indictment (Renzi) misused his public office by forcing a land sale that would financially benefit himself and a business associate, and in so doing, he betrayed the trust of the citizens of Arizona," said U.S. Attorney Diane Humetewa of Arizona.

Reached at his home in Virginia Thursday night, Renzi said he knew nothing about the indictment and referred all questions to his lawyer. The 49-year-old Republican, businessman and father of 12 has long denied any wrongdoing.

Renzi, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, has been under federal investigation for more than a year over an alleged land swap deal that benefited a key campaign contributor.

Last April, the FBI raided Renzi's family business, an insurance company in Sonoita, serving search warrants and seizing documents. Following the raid, Renzi gave up his seats on the House's Natural Resources, Financial Services and Intelligence committees and saw his Capitol Hill stature shrink.

In August, Renzi announced that he would not seek a fourth term as representative of Arizona's 1st Congressional District.

Questions surrounding Renzi's dealings stem from his 2002 campaign, when he financed his campaign using money from a business associate named James Sandlin and from ManTech Corp., a Fort Huachuca company in which Renzi's father served as an executive.

Renzi's father, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Eugene Carmen Renzi (retired), died on Feb. 9.

Among Renzi's first acts as a congressman was sponsorship of legislation to erase Fort Huachuca's obligation to preserve the San Pedro, a river that is not in his district.

Renzi's father had been commandant at Fort Huachuca before he became an executive with ManTech, which had $450 million in contracts at the fort, with an option for $1.1 billion more. Its employees poured more money into Renzi's 2002 campaign than any other business, federal records show.

In 2004, Renzi began to push a land swap between the federal government and private property owners.

One of the parcels on Renzi's agenda was a 480-acre alfalfa field near the San Pedro River, owned by Sandlin.

Resolution Copper wanted to buy private land and trade it to the government for U.S. Forest Service acreage near Superior, where huge ore deposits had been discovered. Investigators are looking into whether Renzi told the company there would be no land swap unless Resolution bought the Sandlin tract.

Renzi has repeatedly said that he welcomes any federal investigation and hopes that it will bring the truth to light.


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