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Arizona congressman pleads not guilty to fraud in connection with land deal

[JURIST] US Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) [official website] pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the US District Court of Arizona [official website] to charges [indictment, PDF text] including extortion, money laundering, and wire fraud in connection with a complex land scheme. Renzi was indicted [JURIST report] last month along with Texas real estate investor James W. Sandlin and former business partner Andrew Beardall. Renzi was released without bail. If convicted, he could face thousands in fines and prison time.

Prosecutors allege Renzi used his position on the House Natural Resources Committee [official website] to block federal land transfer deals unless land owned by Sandlin was included. In exchange, Renzi allegedly received over $700,000 in payoffs. AP has more.

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