By Jim Kouri
A Democrat member of Arizona’s House of Representatives who fights for illegal aliens’ rights, Paul Ben Arredondo, was charged on Wednesday by a federal grand jury with bribery, fraud, attempted extortion and false statements he made to the FBI in connection with receiving more than $6,000 in tickets to sporting and special events while he was a Tempe, Arizona, council member and a member-elect of the Arizona House, according to a federal law enforcement official.
The indictment charges the 63-year-old liberal with one count of federal programs bribery, two counts of honest services mail fraud, one count of attempted Hobbs Act extortion and one count of making false statements. Arredondo will be arraigned on May 30, 2012, in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson.
According to the indictment, Arredondo was a council member in Tempe for 16 years, until July 2010. He was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in November 2010.
The indictment alleges that from February 2009 to November 2010, Arredondo accepted, agreed to accept and solicited things of value from representatives of a company whose purported business objective was to acquire city-owned property in Tempe for real estate development purposes. The representatives were, in fact, undercover agents with the FBI.
“While many Tempe residents were aware of allegations made against Arredondo, he was strongly supported because of his advocacy for illegal aliens and his opposition to fellow Arizona officials like Rep. Russell Pearce and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who believe in tough immigration enforcement,” a former prosecutor who requested anonymity told the Law Enforcement Examiner Wednesday evening.
In August 2011, there were many who wished Rep. Arredondo to be “recalled” for alleged misconduct in his attempt to bring the Fiesta Bowl from Phoenix to Tempe.
According to the indictment, Arredondo received more than $6,000 worth of tickets to sporting and other special events from FBI from the undercover agents. The tickets included 18 tickets for Arizona Diamondbacks baseball games valued at a total of approximately $2,400, and four tickets to an American League Championship Series baseball game valued at a total of approximately $1,225.
In return for those tickets, Arredondo took and agreed to take action in his capacity as a Tempe city council member and as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives to facilitate the undercover agents’ purchase of city-owned property and development project, the indictment alleges.
The indictment alleges that Arredondo brokered meetings between the undercover agents and other public officials, divulged information regarding the city of Tempe’s bidding process, and attempted to persuade other city officials to approve the purported development project.
The indictment further alleges that Arredondo lied to the FBI about his conduct during an interview in January 2012.
The federal programs bribery charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of honest services mail fraud and attempted extortion carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The false statement charge carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.