Feds Say Politician Caught in Bribery Plot

     TEMPE, Ariz. (CN) – Arizona state Rep. Ben Arredondo was indicted Wednesday on charges of bribery and other charges for allegedly accepting about $6,000 worth of tickets to sporting and charity events from a company run by undercover FBI agents.
     Arredondo accepted tables to charity events, two tickets to an Arizona Cardinals-San Francisco 49ers football game, four tickets to a New York Yankees-Los Angeles Angels baseball game, 18 tickets to attend various Arizona Diamondback games, and two tickets to a Duke-Michigan State college basketball game from “Company A” from February 2009 to November 2010, according to the Justice Department.
     To hide that he had accepted tickets to Diamondback games, Arredondo had the company “mail them to his home … ‘to make it a lot easier’ for him because, as he explained, ‘I’m through with this council after that, and then I can honestly say I’ve never taken a look at these guys until after this,'” the indictment states.
     In return for the tickets, the indictment claims Arredondo facilitated phone calls between Company A representatives and Tempe planners, prosecutors say.
     Arredondo also allegedly facilitated a meeting between Company A and a Tempe planner “for the purpose of assisting Company A’s acquisition of city-owned real estate and providing additional support for Company A’s development project.”
     And he told Company A that “the city would be willing to accept a price of $15 per square foot for Company A’s development project,” according to the indictment.
     Prosecutors further claim that Arredondo told Company A that it could “maximize its chances of acquiring the city-owned property by proposing a contingency contract to city officials.”
     Before a meeting between Company A representatives and a Tempe councilmember-elect, Arredondo “assured the representative of Company A, ‘You guys will ask, you guys will have. I don’t know how else to say it. We’ll be just fine because not only we’re covered in the city, we’re covered now at the state,'” the indictment states.
     The Justice Department claims that Arredondo never disclosed to officials that he had received “anything of value” from Company A. Arredondo allegedly denied any wrongdoing in an interview with FBI agents in January 2012.
     Arredondo, 63, “was a councilmember in Tempe and served in that capacity for approximately 16 years, until in or about July 2010,” according to the indictment. “Arredondo was elected to the House of Representatives of the Arizona State Legislature in or about November 2010.”
     The charges facing Arredondo – bribery, mail fraud, attempted extortion and making false statements – carry between 5 and 25 years in prison each, as well as a $250,000 fine per charge.
     The politician is scheduled for arraignment on May 30.

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