AZ lawmaker pleads not guilty in corruption case - CBS 5 - KPHO


AZ lawmaker pleads not guilty in corruption case

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Ben Arredondo Ben Arredondo

State Rep. Ben Arredondo pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court in Phoenix on charges of bribery and other crimes.

The case stems from an undercover FBI investigation conducted near and after the end of Arredondo's term as a Tempe City Council member.

A May 16 indictment accuses Arredondo of soliciting and accepting thousands of dollars of sports tickets from undercover FBI agents and of disclosing confidential city information to the agents.

Arredondo faces as many as 55 years in prison of convicted.

Arrendondo said very little in court this morning as the charges were read.

Besides bribery, Arrendondo faces charges of fraud, extortion and making false statements.

His attorneys called the case a "witch hunt." They maintained their client's innocence and told CBS 5 News the evidence will prove it.

"He's a good man and that's gonna all come out in court," said defense attorney Lee Stein. "This is not a case where you're gonna see, you know, brief cases of cash and expensive watches and European vacations like in the Jack Abramoff case.

"What you're gonna see is a dedicated public servant who is targeted for by the federal government in DC," Stein said.

The indictment said the agents posed as representatives of a business trying to acquire city-owned property.

Arredondo was released on his status within the community and is scheduled back in court July 3.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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