TUCSON, Ariz. — A federal jury on Tuesday convicted former U.S. Rep. Rick
Renzi on more than a half dozen corruption charges accusing him of using his
office for personal financial gain and looting a family insurance business to
help pay for his 2002 campaign.
Renzi, a Republican, represented Arizona’s sprawling 1st Congressional District
from early 2003 until early 2009. He chose not to run for re-election in 2008
while facing the federal indictment. He was charged with 32 felony counts.
His trial began May 7. The jury reached a verdict Tuesday after about four days
The panel found Renzi guilty on 17 of the 32 counts against him, including wire
fraud, conspiracy and extortion. He was acquitted on the remaining counts which
included similar charges but on different dates.
Renzi left the courthouse without commenting.
“We are pleased that the jury acquitted Mr. Renzi on 15 counts,” his defense
attorney, Chris Niewoehner, said in a statement. “We are disappointed by every
guilty verdict. We will continue to fight these charges, including on appeal.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not immediately have a comment.
The indictment charged that Renzi, while in office in 2005, held hostage
possible parcel swaps involving public land proposed as the site for an Arizona
copper mine unless it included purchasing private land owned by a former Renzi
business associate, James Sandlin.
According to the indictment, an investment group agreed to pay $4.6 million for
the associate’s land, and he then paid Renzi $733,000 for his help.
Sandlin had owed Renzi money from past business dealings involving land in
Kingman, authorities said. It wasn’t immediately known what verdicts were
rendered against Sandlin.
Charges in the other part of the case accused Renzi of embezzling more than
$400,000 in premiums from his family insurance business to fund his 2002
campaign for Congress.
Renzi had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Two other co-defendants, who both had worked for Renzi’s insurance agency and
were charged only in that part of the case, have already faced trial. One was
acquitted, while the other was convicted on some charges only to later have them
overturned on appeal.