WASHINGTON – A member of the Arizona House of Representatives was charged today by a federal grand jury in the District of Arizona with bribery, fraud, attempted extortion and false statements in connection with receiving more than $6,000 in tickets to sporting and special events while serving as a Tempe, Ariz., City Council councilmember and member-elect of the Arizona House, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge James L. Turgal of the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office.
The indictment charges Paul Ben Arredondo, 63, of Tempe, 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 councilmember 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. According to the indictment, Arredondo received from the undercover agents more than $6,000 worth of tickets to sporting and other special events. Those 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.
According to the indictment, in return for those tickets, Arredondo took and agreed to take action in his capacity as a Tempe city councilmember and as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives to facilitate the undercover agents’ purported purchase of city-owned property and development project. 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. The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture.
An indictment is merely a charge and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward T. Kang and Monique T. Abrishami of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick A. Battista of the District of Arizona. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office.