PHOENIX - A former Arizona legislator was sentenced to 18 months of home confinement for his felony convictions for seeking and accepting bribes while he was a Tempe city councilman and misleading donors about a scholarship fund that benefited his relatives.
The sentence given to former Rep. Ben Arredondo was more lenient than the 18 months in prison that prosecutors had sought.
Arredondo had admitted he accepted sporting tickets and other benefits from FBI agents who posed as employees for a real estate development company looking to do business in Tempe. In exchange, Arredondo divulged confidential information from a city bidding process and lined up meetings and phone calls between the company and city officials.
The former Democratic lawmaker admitted that more than $49,000 from a scholarship fund he established had gone to seven of his relatives. He never revealed to prospective donors that family members were receiving the funds.
Prosecutors argued that Arredondo abused the public's trust for sporting tickets and personal gain.
U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone said Arredondo's crimes were disappointing but the former lawmaker had otherwise led a constructive life that had a positive influence on others. "It's cheap. It's tawdry. It's pathetic," Martone said of Arredondo's crimes. "But this is not Jack the Ripper."
The judge said a sting operation in which a public official sought sporting tickets from a development company raised the question of whether the federal government's resources would be better spent on targeting financial crimes on Wall Street. He also noted that only one contributor to the scholarship fund has asked for his $540 donation back, while those who responded to inquiries from prosecutors didn't feel they were victimized.