Corruption trial of former Arizona Representative Renzi goes to jury

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2013 5:27 PM

By Brad Poole

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - A federal jury began deliberations on Thursday in the corruption trial of former Arizona congressman Richard Renzi, charged with fraud, extortion, racketeering and other crimes stemming from a federal land swap deal when he was in office.

Renzi, a Republican, is accused of coercing a mining company in 2005 to arrange for investors to buy land from a former business partner who then funneled corporate checks totaling $121,000 to Renzi, who represented Arizona's 1st Congressional District for three terms.

Prosecutors said Renzi, a member of the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, agreed in exchange to support efforts by Resolution Copper Mining LLC to acquire valuable copper mining rights.

Renzi, 54, is also accused of funneling more than $400,000 from an insurance company he managed into personal and campaign accounts between 2001 and 2009. The government said Renzi used some of that cash, which was intended for insurance premiums, to fund his first congressional campaign in 2002.

Transfers from the company to Renzi's campaign accounts caused hundreds of insurance policies to lapse that year, according to the indictment.

Renzi was indicted in 2008. He left Congress at the end of the term in early 2009.

His former partner, co-defendant James Sandlin, is charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and false tax filings. Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The 21-day trial went to deliberations on Thursday after U.S. District Judge David Bury, noting the complexity of the case, read more than an hour of instructions to the eight women and four men of the jury.

(Reporting by Brad Poole; Editing by Tim Gaynor, Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)