Renzi Business Partner Given Jail Time for Separate Charges

Posted November 26, 2008 at 9:38am

An alleged co-conspirator in the public corruption case against Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) was sentenced to federal prison on separate charges Tuesday.

Businessman James Sandlin was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in June on two charges that he submitted false statements to a bank in an attempt to procure a line of credit.

A federal judge issued a three-year prison sentence for each of the charges, as well as a three-year parole term when Sandlin is released. He must also pay fines totaling $20,000.

In the meantime, Sandlin also faces charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and extortion in the U.S. District Court for Arizona, where he was indicted along with Renzi and businessman Andrew Beardall.

That indictment focuses on a 2005 mining deal in which Renzi allegedly required private mining companies to buy land from Sandlin in exchange for Renzi’s support of legislation allowing the government to swap land with the companies for the purposes of establishing a copper mine.

Sandlin was Renzi’s business partner, as well as a campaign contributor, and had earlier bought out Renzi’s real estate business but still owed the Republican about $700,000, according to a February indictment.

The Justice Department also asserts that after the sale of that land, Sandlin used the proceeds to pay Renzi $733,000, but the two men funneled the payment through other companies to hide it.

Renzi, who is scheduled to go on trial in late March 2009, did not seek re-election to his 1st district seat. He has pleaded not guilty to an initial indictment and is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 4 for an arraignment on the superseding indictment filed earlier this month.