Renzi Lawyers File More Motions Seeking Dismissal

January 21, 2009

Lawyers for former Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi filed several more motions aimed at dismissing various counts or the entire indictment accusing him of public corruption, insurance fraud and a false tax return statement.

One filing asks the court to toss a racketeering count against Renzi which was added in a revised indictment in November. The motion contends that the government failed to allege the elements of a racketeering offense.

Renzi was named in 43 of 44 counts in the superseding indictment, with other charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, insurance fraud and extortion.

He’s accused of engineering a federal land swap intended to benefit him and a former business partner, land developer James Sandlin.

Renzi was charged with pressuring two separate investor groups, advising them that he would provide assistance in getting congressional approval for a land exchange, but only on agreement to buy 480 acres of land Sandlin owned along the San Pedro River in Cochise County, Ariz.

Prosecutors say Renzi failed to disclose to either investor group that Sandlin owed him $700,000 plus interest.

Renzi also was charged misappropriating premiums that clients paid to his insurance company. Sandlin; Andrew Beardall, the former president of Renzi’s insurance firm, and insurance accountant Dwayne Lequire are co-defendants with Renzi.

Another motion seeks to dismiss all 43 counts against Renzi, claiming that federal agents violated the U.S. Constitution’s “speech or debate clause” protections that apply to congressmen for their legislative acts.

“The government has acknowledged that it violated this prohibition in the grand jury that returned the original indictment by relying on grand jury exhibits protected by the clause,” the motion said.

Renzi, a 50-year-old Republican, represented Arizona’s 1st Congressional District for three terms and did not seek a fourth term this year.

He initially was indicted last February. Renzi’s lawyers first pursued the constitutional issue in December before U.S. Magistrate Bernardo Velasco in arguing a series of motions dealing with the original indictment.

Still other motions ask to drop counts alleging false statements to insurance regulators and to separate groups of charges and try defendants separately.

A fifth motion asks that motions Renzi’s lawyers had filed last year be incorporated in his efforts to toss the most recent indictment, while a sixth seeks access to the grand jury record.

A seventh document focuses further on improper monitoring of privileged phone calls.

U.S. District Judge David Bury moved the trial date back from March 24 to June 2 after lawyers in the case told him the earlier date was unrealistic.

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