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Ex-Arizona congressman faces up to 100 years at fraud sentencing

By Brad Poole

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - Former U.S. Representative Richard Renzi of Arizona faces up to 100 years in jail when he is sentenced on Monday for fraud, extortion and money laundering stemming from a federal land swap deal when he was in office.

Renzi, a three-term Republican, was convicted in June of 17 felony counts and acquitted on 15 other charges. U.S. District Judge David C. Bury is set to sentence him at 9:30 a.m. in Tucson.

Renzi, 55, was accused of coercing a mining company in 2005 to arrange for investors to buy land from a former business partner and codefendant, James Sandlin, who then funneled corporate checks to Renzi.

The former lawmaker, who represented Arizona's 1st congressional district until he stepped down in 2009, was also convicted of funneling funds from an insurance company he managed into personal and campaign accounts.

The government said Renzi used some of that money, which was intended for insurance premiums, to fund his first congressional campaign in 2002.

He was indicted in 2008 and left Congress early the following year at the end of his term. Prosecutors called his crimes a "betrayal of the public trust and an abuse of the political process."

Co-defendant Sandlin, now in his sixties, was convicted of 13 felonies including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and extortion, and is also due to be sentenced on Monday.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Ken Wills)

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