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Veteran Arizona politician spared prison in FBI bribery sting

By David Schwartz

(Reuters) - An Arizona politician caught in an FBI bribery sting was spared prison time by a federal judge on Wednesday after pleading guilty to accepting tickets to sporting events in exchange for political favors.

Paul Ben Arredondo, who for nearly two decades served as a state lawmaker and city councilman, will serve 18 months of home arrest and a total of three years' probation under the sentence by Judge Frederick Martone in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

Arredondo, 65, pleaded guilty in October to two felony counts of mail fraud under a plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors.

In the plea he admitted to taking tickets to college and professional games and tables at charity events from representatives of a fictitious development company created by the FBI beginning in February 2009. He was a councilman at the time.

The plea agreement states Arredondo in return used his clout as a Tempe, Arizona, councilman and later as a state legislator to help acquire city-owned property, divulging confidential information on tactics and sale price to pave the way for development.

Arredondo also was found to have used a scholarship fund to help pay for family members to attend Arizona education institutions without telling investors. The fund was created in his name in 2001.

Under the plea deal, the Democratic lawmaker also resigned from the state House of Representatives effective immediately. His term would have expired this month and he was not running for re-election.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Tim Gaynor, Cynthia Johnston and Phil Berlowitz)

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