WASHINGTON -- A federal judge in Arizona criticized the FBI and federal prosecutors on Wednesday for dumping government resources into an undercover sting operation that nabbed a low-level politician taking a few thousand dollars worth of tickets to sporting events.
Former Arizona Rep. Ben Arredondo, a Republican-turned-Democrat who was elected to the statehouse in the midst of the FBI sting, was sentenced to 18 months of home confinement and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $540 in restitution on Thursday. Federal prosecutors had requested a minimum of 30 months in prison.
Arredondo had accepted about $6,000 in tickets to sporting events from undercover FBI agents pretending to work for a fake company called Longford Solutions. Undercover agents portrayed themselves as Wall Street-types interested in investing in real estate in Tempe, Ariz., where Arredondo was a longtime city councilman. Arizona lobbyist Mike Williams met with several politicians on behalf of Longford Solutions, but only Arredondo has been charged with wrongdoing.
U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone said the federal agents could have found a better use for their time.
"I wonder whether the resources of the United States government were appropriately directed over the course of two years," Martone said, asking whether the feds could have directed more resources towards the Wall Street bankers who committed mortgage fraud.
"It's cheap. It's tawdry. It's pathetic," Martone said of Arredondo's crimes. "But it isn't Jack the Ripper."
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