Former Arizona U.S. Congressman Rick Renzi was sentenced today to three years in prison following his June conviction on fraud and corruption charges.
The sentence was a long time coming in this classic case of congressional corruption, but Renzi, a Republican, will finally be doing some hard time. New Times was the first to expose Renzi's disgusting dealings in a 2006 article that preceded his 2008 indictment.
See also: Deal Breaker
Arizona U.S. District Judge David C. Bury sentenced Renzi in a Tucson courtroom Monday, October 28. Renzi's buddy, real-estate investor James Sandlin, also found out today he'll be serving 18 months in the Big House himself.
Sarah Fenske, ex-New Times reporter who's now the editor of the LA Weekly, wrote of Renzi's blatant acts of land-dealing and bill-making that earned him and Sandlin millions. It's really amazing these guys thought they could away with this. As Fenske's article explains, Renzi sold land to Sandlin in a cash deal that funded Renzi's successful 2002 campaign for Congress.
After being elected, he sold the remaining interest in the land to Sandlin. Then he floated a bill in Congress that would have authorized a land swap in which the federal government would trade public land for the Sandlin property. A week after Renzi's proposal became public, Sandlin sold the land for a tidy profit.
The evidence during the trial also showed that Renzi had embezzled money from his insurance company clients to fund his first election.
Renzi won two additional terms but declined to run for a fourth following his 2008 indictment.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.