Charges against Ben Arredondo not related to legislature
Democratic state representative Ben Arredondo pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to two counts of mail fraud stemming from crimes committed while he was a Tempe city councilman.
According to prosecutors and Arredondo's own admission in court, he solicited bribes from a development company that wanted to develop commercial property in Tempe. Those bribes included tickets to numerous athletic events in Arizona and other states. In exchange, Arredondo gave the developer confidential information about the process, and urged his fellow council members to support the company's efforts.
The other count to which he pled guilty stemmed from a scholarship fund that Arredondo established and for which he solicited donations from the community. According to prosecutors, Arredondo used at least $49,750 of the money he raised to pay for college costs for his own relatives, despite signing a pledge that none of the money would be directed to family members.
Sentencing is scheduled for January 22. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Arredondo could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison – 20 years on each count. On the other hand, he could receive probation. Judge Lawrence Anderson, who accepted Arredondo's guilty pleas but won't be the sentencing judge, indicated that considering "enhancements" such as that Arredondo was a public official, it's likely he'll be sentenced to 30-36 months in prison, although the actual sentence could be shorter or longer than that, at the discretion of the sentencing judge.
As part of his plea agreement, Arredondo resigned from the Arizona legislature after being convicted. His attorney indicated that a letter of resignation would be hand-delivered to the House of Representatives after the plea hearing.