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Judge wants to split Renzi case into 3 trials

TUCSON – The criminal case against former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizona and three other men should be split into three trials, a federal magistrate recommended.

If the suggestion is accepted by another judge, the Republican could go to trial twice.

One would be on allegations that Renzi engineered a swap of federally owned land to benefit himself and a former business partner, James Sandlin, who would be tried alongside Renzi.

Renzi’s other trial would be on allegations that he raided his family insurance company’s accounts to fund a campaign. Two other men, Andrew Beardall and Dwayne Lequire, would be tried along with Renzi on the insurance charges.

A third trial on a charge of making a campaign contribution in the name of another person would have only one defendant, Sandlin.

U.S. District Judge David Bury will decide whether to accept the recommendations made Dec. 11 by U.S. Magistrate Bernardo Velasco.

Renzi is charged with money laundering, insurance fraud, racketeering and other charges. He and the three other defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Renzi represented Arizona’s sprawling 1st Congressional District for three terms before declining to seek re-election in 2008.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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