Prosecutors ask judge to deny Renzi dismissal bid

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Federal prosecutors want a judge to deny Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi's bid to have corruption charges against him dismissed on constitutional grounds.

Renzi's lawyers last month alleged that FBI agents violated the "speech or debate" clause of the U.S. Constitution by questioning his aides and secretly recording him in a call with one aide.

Prosecutors replied in court papers late last week that Renzi "distorts the intent and plain meaning" of the clause and argues in essence that he "is the fortunate denizen of a 'sanctuary for crime."'

Renzi is charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion, money laundering and insurance fraud. Prosecutors say they're not relying on his legislative acts to prove their case.

A federal magistrate will consider the issue next month.

Charged with Renzi are Andrew Beardall of Rockville, Maryland, former president of Renzi's insurance firm, and Renzi's former business partner James W. Sandlin of Sherman, Texas.

Renzi didn't seek re-election this year.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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