Tempe's Arredondo pleads guilty to bribes, mail fraud (updated) - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

Tempe's Arredondo pleads guilty to bribes, mail fraud (updated)

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Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012 5:04 pm | Updated: 2:21 pm, Wed Jan 23, 2013.

Longtime East Valley lawmaker Ben Arredondo will be sentenced in January after pleading guilty Friday to two felony charges in federal court.

State Rep. Arredondo, D-Tempe, who was indicted in May, was caught in a sting involving FBI undercover agents who said they represented a company that wanted to develop real estate projects in Tempe, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice. The department reports Arredondo’s actions took place while he was first a city councilman in Tempe and then a state representative.

On Friday, Arredondo, 65, pleaded guilty to one count each of honest services mail fraud and mail fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison with each charge and could be fined. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 22.

The release states that Arredondo accepted tickets to sporting events, and tables at charity events, with tickets sent to his home. In exchange, Arredondo agreed to use his influence to gain support for the fictitious company and its project.

“Arredondo took the bribe with the intent to be influenced in the performance of his official duties, first as a councilmember and later as an elected member of the Arizona House of Representatives,” the U.S. Justice of Department release said. “During his plea, Arredondo admitted that from February 2009 to November 2010, he solicited and accepted things of value, collectively a bribe, from representatives of ‘Company A.’”

During his plea, Arredondo also revealed that some monies given to a scholarship fund he set up were used by family members, which was not revealed to donors.

A call to Arredondo’s attorney was not immediately returned.

Arredondo was elected to District 17 in November 2010 following about 16 years as a Tempe councilman.

Sen. David Schapira, D-Tempe, told the Tribune that he expected Arredondo to “no longer be a state representative” by the end of Friday.

Several officials at the state House of Representatives said they expected his resignation as well.

At that point, Schapira said, precinct members will sit down to discuss who could fill Arredondo’s seat for the next three months. Their nominations will go before the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for final decision.

“The important thing to highlight is our district has been represented by somebody who has been distracted by a serious court case for some time. I called on him to resign when the indictments first came out. Sadly, our constituents in District 17 have been shortchanged,” Schapira said.

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