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Judge Denies Request for Another Postponement of Renzi Trial

Ex-Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) is set to stand trial next month following the denial of a Justice Department request for a postponement, according to court documents released Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge David Bury confirmed Monday the March 16 trial date for Renzi and his co-defendant, James Sandlin, according to the documents.

A 48-count indictment alleges that Renzi used his legislative position to push a land deal to benefit Sandlin, a former business partner, and embezzled money from his insurance firm to finance his first campaign.

Late last week, Bury ordered the case split into three separate trials: the March trial will focus on the land deal, another on the embezzlement charges and a third on an alleged falsified campaign contribution. Only the first two trials would involve Renzi.

Bury has previously postponed the trial — originally slated to begin in April 2008 — a half-dozen times at the request of both federal prosecutors and Renzi and his co-defendants.

In a series of rulings late last week, Bury denied Renzi’s request to dismiss public corruption charges against him and ruled that a Justice Department’s indictment does not violate the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.

Renzi could still appeal those rulings, however, and Bury’s Monday order indicated that such a decision could potentially delay a portion of the March proceedings.

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