A new motion to seal evidence in the federal bribery case against Rep. Ben Arredondo reveals that another investigation connected the Tempe Democrat is “large scale.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Anderson earlier this week denied the Department of Justice’s request for secrecy on the grounds that it was too vague, but the judge said he would consider a more detailed request.
A motion filed on Thursday, which Arredondo’s attorneys also agreed to, hints that not only individuals are under investigation but that other entities are involved, as well.
The motion asked for secrecy for information related to investigations of “third persons and or/entities,” information about informants, information on informants who asked that their identities not be revealed, and financial records, tax records and personal identifiers of all third parties.
“The materials in these four categories, representing the fruits of a large-scale investigation, is only tangentially related, if related at all, to the charges against defendant Arredondo,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Monique Abrishami.
The previous motion only stated that there are “other” closed and ongoing investigations that required secrecy and that the privacy of people who were targeted and not charged needed to be protected.
Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, speaking generally, said that while it is unusual to seek protection of evidence, it is “smart and appropriate” for prosecutors to hand over all the information they have, even if it doesn’t relate to the charges.
“It would be a mistake and could be a violation of the Constitution to try to narrow the scope of your discovery because you as a prosecutor cannot know exactly what defenses there may be to a charge,” Charlton said. “What prosecutors do typically when there’s an ongoing investigation is attempt to balance the need to provide the defendant with all of the discovery he or she will need to adequately defend at trial and at the same time protect any ongoing cases.”
Anderson hasn’t ruled on the new request yet.
Under the proposed protective order, Arredondo and his attorneys have to keep the information confidential and must get permission before disclosing anything in court documents. The government also has to have Arredondo’s permission to disclose the information in court documents.
A federal grand jury indicted Arredondo, a former Tempe city councilman, on May 16 on counts of bribery, extortion, mail fraud and false statements. He stands accused of accepting game tickets and seats at charity events in exchange for brokering land deals with undercover FBI agents who were posing as land developers.
The undercover investigation took place while Arredondo was a Tempe councilman. He is not seeking re-election to the state Legislature.