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Change of plea set for Rep. Ben Arredondo

Rep. Ben Arredondo (File photo)

Rep. Ben Arredondo, a Tempe Democrat, is scheduled to plead guilty Friday to federal charges stemming from a public corruption indictment.

According to a court docket, he is likely to plead guilty to felony counts of honest services mail fraud and mail fraud. The latter count is not part of the original indictment and will be added to the plea agreement. It appears the remaining four counts of a five-count indictment will be dismissed.

The honest services mail fraud count is in connection to defrauding and depriving the Tempe City Council, the Arizona Legislature and state residents from his honest services as an elected official by accepting $2,400 in Arizona Diamondback tickets in July 2010 through the mail.

According to the indictment, he was the target of an FBI sting from February 2009 to November 2010 in which he accepted about $6,200 worth of tables at charity events and sporting event tickets in exchange for using his position as a Tempe City Councilman to push a fictitious land deal in the city. FBI agents posed as land developers in dealing with Arredondo.

Arredondo’s attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment and U.S. Attorney for Arizona Spokesman Bill Solomon declined to divulge details of the plea agreement.

According to state law, an elected official’s seat becomes vacant upon conviction, but U.S. District Court typically doesn’t accept plea agreements until the time of sentencing, which could come after the election.

Arredondo did not run for re-election and he had not submitted a resignation as of Thursday afternoon.

Arredondo’s anticipated change of plea comes a week after House staffer John Mills was indicted on federal wire fraud charges for allegedly stealing from former House Speaker Jim Weiers’ campaign account from 2006 to 2008.

In June, former Rep. Richard Miranda, a Tolleson Democrat, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for stealing from a charity he ran.



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