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Ex-Arizona congressman Renzi loses appeal of convictions

In this March 5, 2008 file photo shows Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., right, facing a 35 count indictment, listens to his lead attorney Reid Weingarten after his arraignment, during a news conference at U.S. District Court in Tucson, Ariz. Renzi pleaded not guilty in his initial court appearance. A jury has begun hearing testimony in the trial of former Congressman Rick Renzi in federal court in Tucson. The Arizona Republican is accused of siphoning money from clients of his insurance agency to pay for personal and political expenses. He's also accused of trying to engineer a land swap for personal gain. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

FILE – In this March 5, 2008 file photo shows Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., right, facing a 35 count indictment, listens to his lead attorney Reid Weingarten after his arraignment, during a news conference at U.S. District Court in Tucson, Ariz. Renzi pleaded not guilty in his initial court appearance. A jury has begun hearing testimony in the trial of former Congressman Rick Renzi in federal court in Tucson. The Arizona Republican is accused of siphoning money from clients of his insurance agency to pay for personal and political expenses. He’s also accused of trying to engineer a land swap for personal gain. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the convictions of former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi on corruption, money laundering and other charges, rejecting his claim that there wasn’t enough evidence to support some of the allegations.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also declined to throw out Renzi’s three-year prison sentence after his lawyers argued that prosecutors had violated a clause of the U.S. Constitution that grants members of Congress protection for their legislative acts.

Renzi, a Republican, represented Arizona’s sprawling 1st Congressional District from 2003 until early 2009. He chose not to run for re-election in 2008 while facing the federal indictment.

The district runs from the Arizona-Utah border to suburban Tucson.

The appeals court previously allowed Renzi to remain free while he appealed his conviction. It was unclear when he will start serving his sentence and whether he will appeal further.

A call to two lawyers representing Renzi weren’t immediately returned.

A jury in Tucson convicted Renzi last year on 17 of 32 counts, including wire fraud, extortion and racketeering.

Prosecutors said Renzi looted a family insurance business to help pay for his 2002 campaign, but he wasn’t convicted of illegally using money from the firm. The jury did find, however, that he filed a false statement with regulators after failing to use premiums collected from nonprofit groups to buy policies.

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One comment

  1. middlegroundprisonreform

    Unlike most criminal defendants who are required to begin serving their imposed prison sentences immediately upon being sentenced, former-congressman Renzi has already been given the extraordinary privilege of remaining in the community and at home with his family while he engaged in his first-level appeals. Now, its time for him to head to federal prison and, if he wishes to continue to pursue his appeals, he should do it from his prison cell, just like most others are required to do. Members of congress are not above the law, and Renzi should not be given special treatment by anyone, and especially by the courts. Confidence in the judicial system is founded on the belief that the lady of justice is blind-folded and that everyone is treated the same. Time for equal treatment for Mr. Renzi.

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