Renzi Corruption Trial Pushed to June

Posted March 15, 2010 at 10:16am

Ex-Rep. Rick Renzi (R) will not go on trial for public corruption charges until June, after a federal judge agreed to once again postpone the case at the request of both federal prosecutors and the former Arizona lawmaker and his co-defendants.

U.S. District Judge David Bury scratched the trial, set to begin Tuesday, citing in part Renzi’s appeal of a series of February rulings that found the Justice Department’s indictment against the Arizonan did not violate the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.

“All counsel agree that the current trial date of March 16, 2010 is not feasible and more time is needed to prepare for trial,” according to court documents summarizing the Thursday hearing. The trial is now set for June 22.

Bury has previously postponed the trial — originally slated to begin in April 2008 — a half-dozen times at the request of both sides.

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

Last month, Bury ordered the case split into three separate trials: The June 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.

Although Renzi has lost motions to dismiss his case, a federal magistrate did recommend last week that federal prosecutors lose access to information gained from federal wiretaps because investigators unlawfully recorded privileged calls between Renzi and his attorneys.

Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco recommended that federal wiretaps of Renzi be suppressed as punishment for federal prosecutors’ mishandling of calls. Bury must decide whether to adopt Velasco’s recommendations.