Renzi Pleads Not Guilty
Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi (R) pleaded not guilty today to a host of federal charges related to a federal land-swap deal and his alleged embezzlement of money from his own company to fund his first House campaign.
Renzi appeared at U.S. District Court in Tuscon to make his plea, two weeks after he was indicted on 35 counts of money laundering, extortion, wire fraud and other offenses. The indictment alleges that Renzi pressured two different parties interested in federal land swaps to buy property from a former Renzi business partner who owed the lawmaker money.
Renzi, who was released without bond after the hearing, had said previously through his attorney that he was innocent and would fight the charges. His trial is scheduled to begin April 29.
"I have a lot of faith in my attorneys. I'll be OK," Renzi said today, according to the Associated Press.
The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has created an investigative subcommittee to probe whether Renzi violated the chamber's Code of Official Conduct, though the committee is likely to defer most further action out of deference to the Justice Department's prosecution of the lawmaker.
Renzi announced last year that he would not run for re-election in 2008. He has come under pressure from Republican leaders to resign from the House, but he has vowed to stay in the chamber as he mounts his defense.
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