Former Republican Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizona was sentenced to three years in prison for a rap sheet of crimes including extortion, bribery, corruption, money laundering, wire fraud, conspiracy and racketeering.
Renzi, first elected in 2002, retired from Congress in 2008 under a cloud of suspicion arising from a land deal in Arizona. In 2002 and 2003, Renzi sold his stake in a real estate investment company in two separate deals to business associate James Sandlin. In 2005, Renzi introduced legislation to swap land owned by Sandlin for federal land. At the prospect of the bill, Sandlin sold the property for a significant profit — another investment group paid Sandlin $4.6 million for the land — while the legislation, which never became law, was under consideration.
According to the federal indictment, Sandlin paid Renzi $733,000 for his services — a sum of money Renzi never reported on his congressional financial disclosures.
On Monday, Sandlin was sentenced to 18 months of jail for his part in the deal.
Renzi was also convicted of insurance fraud for diverting the premiums paid to his insurance firm to fund his first campaign for Congress. Altogether, Renzi was convincted on 17 counts and Sandlin on 13 counts related to fraud.
“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, of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a DOJ statement.
Both men are set to begin their sentences in January.