TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) a¿¿ A federal judge on Monday sentenced former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi to three years in prison for convictions on public corruption, money laundering and other charges, capping a corruption case prosecutors said began more than a decade ago.
U.S. District Judge David C. Bury also sentenced Renzi co-defendant James Sandlin to 18 months in prison, and ordered both men to pay fines. They are to begin their prison terms in January.
"I'm not wise enough to know why good people do bad things a¿¿ I think character and avarice have something to do with it," Bury said. "That's what happened here. Two good men committed bad acts."Renzi, a Republican, represented Arizona's sprawling 1st Congressional District from early 2003 until early 2009. He chose not to run for re-election in 2008 while facing the federal indictment. A federal jury in Tucson convicted him in June on 17 of 32 counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering, money laundering and making false statements to insurance regulators. He was acquitted on the remaining counts. Prosecutors said Renzi, 55, now of Burke, Va., looted a family insurance business to help pay for his 2002 campaign. He was not convicted of illegally using money from his insurance firm, but was convicted of filing false statement with regulators after failing to use premiums collected from nonprofit groups to buy policies. The indictment also charged that Renzi, while in office in 2005, held hostage possible parcel swaps involving public land proposed as the site for an Arizona copper mine unless it included purchasing private land owned by Sandlin, a former Renzi business associate. According to the indictment, an investment group agreed to pay $4.6 million for Sandlin's land. He then paid Renzi $733,000 for his help. The U.S. Probation Office recommended that Renzi be sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, but prosecutors wanted up to 12 years.