After all that, a federal judge sentenced former state Representative Ben Arredondo yesterday to zero days in jail.
This, less than a year after being charged with bribery, extortion, and lying to FBI agents in a ticket-bribery exchange, then eventually pleading guilty to a mail-fraud charges, related to running a scholarship scam.
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The case started in May, when Arredondo was indicted on charges related to taking sporting-event tickets from a company -- a fake company, set up by the FBI -- in exchange for helping it buy land owned by the city of Tempe, for a real estate development.
That was when Arredondo, a Republican-turned-Democrat was on the Tempe City Council, and had allegedly set up everything by the time he was elected to the Legislature.
The indictment against Arredondo claimed he had set up meetings between undercover FBI agents and other public officials, tried to get them a favorable position in the bidding process, and tried to get his colleagues at the city to help approve this acquisition by the FBI's fake company.
By October, Arredondo had pleaded guilty to one charge related to that ticket-bribery exchange, but he also pleaded guilty to something completely different.
In a plea agreement, it was revealed that Arredondo admitted he ran a scholarship fund in which he'd tell prospective donors to the fund that it would help pay for college fees and textbooks for "average" students, and was supposed to go to youngsters whose parents hadn't saved up a college fund.
It turned out that the "Arredondo Scholarship Fund" was literally the Arredondo scholarship fund -- seven of his relatives received funds for their college expenses.
For example, from 2003 to 2011, the fund paid $81,200 to Arizona State University. Of that, $39,250 was used on six of Arredondo's relatives, and the remaining $49,150 went toward the fees of 20 people not related to Arredondo.
Out of all of that, Arredondo was guilty of two counts of mail fraud.
Prosecutors were looking for a prison sentence in the neighborhood of three years, but U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone sentenced him to 18 months of house arrest and probation, in addition to fines and restitution totaling about $5,500 -- less than the value of the tickets to ballgames and charity events he'd accepted.
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