Former Renzi associate guilty on conspiracy, embezzlement charges

An associate of former Rep. Rick Renzi has been convicted on conspiracy and eight of 10 counts of embezzlement in a Tucson, Ariz. court.

A federal jury convicted the former insurance company accountant Dwayne Lequire, 51, of embezzling nearly $800,000 in premiums and conspiring with Renzi to funnel the money into the former lawmaker's campaign and personal accounts.

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The insurance company is currently owned by Renzi's wife, Roberta.

A second man, Andrew Beardall, 39, was acquitted of conspiracy and two counts of insurance fraud. Beardall was the insurance company's president and lawyer from late 2002 through 2003.

Beardall was accused of making false statements and reports to insurance regulators in an effort to provide cover for Renzi's alleged funneling of $400,000 from his family's insurance company to pay for his election.

The government has said that Renzi and Legqire willfully embezzled funds and premiums from a risk retention company called Spirit Mountain to pay Renzi’s “substantial personal expenses.” Lequire helped conceal the embezzlement by transferring other funds into accounts of Renzi’s insurance company, Patriot Insurance, including proceeds from a line of credit and the real estate deal at the heart of the corruption case against him, the prosecutors allege. 

From one payment of $263,000 in June 2006, Renzi paid more than $200,000 in federal income tax and purchased several airline tickets for his family, according to a Justice Department release. 

Renzi, a three-term Republican, will be tried later. His case is being held up by an appeal on rulings made by a trial court denying a constitutional challenge to his 47-count indictment.

In October 2009, the federal prosecutors added five new corruption charges, including added insurance fraud and racketeering accusations in a second superseding indictment filed in late September. It is the second time the government has added charges to the original indictment, first filed in February 2008. 

In June, the judge said federal prosecutors couldn't use wiretaps of Renzi because they had "conducted an unreasonable wholesale interception of calls they knew to be attorney-client communications."