GOP Congressman Charged With Extortion

      PHOENIX (CN) – U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, a three-term Republican from Flagstaff, was indicted today on federal charges of extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other acts that allegedly netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars in an Arizona land swap . The indictment accuses Renzi, a former business partner, and the attorney of Renzi’s family insurance business, of conspiring to promote the sale of land that buyers could swap for federal lands. Renzi announced last summer that he would not seek re-election.




     The indictment claims that Renzi and his former partner, James Sandlin, concealed at least $733,000 in payoffs to the congressman for helping to push through the land deals.
     Renzi is accused of using his seat on the House Natural Resources Committee to push the land swaps for Sandlin, his co-defendant.
      “Renzi was having financial difficulty throughout 2005 and needed a substantial infusion of funds to keep his insurance business solvent and to maintain his personal lifestyle,” the indictment states.
     The 26-page indictment claims Renzi refused for two years to back congressional approval for land swaps with two other businesses unless they agreed to buy Sandlin’s property as part of the deal.
     Also charged was Andrew Beardall, an attorney, who was general counsel of Renzi’s family insurance business.

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