BRIBERY STING (Jan 2013)
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 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.
PEDOPHILE STING OPERATION (Dec 2008)
GOP politician George “Chris” Ortloff had two vibrators, ”one for each minor,” along with lubricant and condoms when he was arrested at a Wolf Road motel, authorities said.
Ortloff discussed engaging in various sexual acts, he was trying to arrange with an 11-year-old.
The evil scumsack “reached a plea deal” with prosecutors. Meanwhile, he gets to stay home — house arrest, sure! — and can only leave now and then.
Thanks, U.S. District Senior Judge Thomas J. McAvoy, for making sure this former assemblyman and parole-board member gets to hang out in the safety of his home for the next four months, and thanks to the federal prosecutors for recommending a “reduced sentence,” and also for abruptly sticking this on the Christmas Eve court calendar, with no public notice, because who would possibly care about a 61-year-old child molester loose in their neighborhood, right?
SOLICITATION of a MINOR (Sep 2007)
NASSAU COUNTY, FL — A former political and community leader was arrested after an undercover sex sting. Former Nassau County Commission candidate Keith Sawyer was arrested and booked in jail. Sawyer had once served on the Executive Committee for the county’s Democratic National Party. Deputies received a tip from someone, saying Sawyer was interested in having sex with an underage girl. “The sheriff’s office used the informant and made a recorded phone call to Sawyer at which time Sawyer did agree to provide drugs and money in exchange for sex with a 15-year-old girl,” Assistant Chief Hank Martinez told GS. Deputies arrested Sawyer when he showed up at a Comfort Inn in Yulee. They say he came expecting to meet a 15-year-old girl and her friend for sex. At the time of his arrest, deputies say Sawyer had several hundred dollars in cash but no drugs. “It is very shocking to me in Nassau County that we would have a politician act this way,” Martinez said. GS spoke to Sawyer’s ex-wife, who didn’t want us to use her name. She said she is humiliated because they have two children together. Sawyer’s son and daughter are both in their twenties. “I should’ve expected this,” Sawyer’s ex-wife said. “I believe it’s true.” Sawyer posted $50,000 bail. He is charged with solicitation of a minor, lewd and lascivious battery and lewd and lascivious conduct.
ABSCAM (Feb 1980)
“…he was just an unbelievable crook. He had no fear,” said an FBI agent. According to surveillance tapes of the meeting with Camden Democratic Mayor Angelo Errichetti, the South Jersey politician made it clear he could deliver. “I’ll give you Atlantic City,” he said. “Without me, you do nothing.” He claimed he had influence with the state’s Casino Control Commission and its vice chairman, his good friend Kenneth N. MacDonald.
FBI agent Good says they gave him cash and he walked away with it.
“The politicians were just unbelievably unethical and ruthless,” he says.
Errichetti was charged later with promising to seek to obtain a casino license for Abdul Enterprises in return for an immediate payment of $25,000 and a total payment of $400,000.
The approach to Errichetti shifted Abscam into a major political corruption investigation, using the mayor as the critical go-between to even bigger fish that ran all the way to Capitol Hill. At one meeting with Weinberg and the agents, Errichetti said he knew congressmen willing to take bribes. The names of Raymond F. Lederer and Michael Myers, both of Philadelphia, would later come up.
And the list quickly grew. There was Rep. Frank Thompson Jr. of Trenton, a tall, silver-haired man who had served in Congress since 1955 and had been a political ally of John F. Kennedy. Thompson served as chairman of the powerful House Administration Committee. Democratic Congressmen John M. Murphy of Staten Island and John Jenrette of South Carolina, along with Republican Richard Kelly of Florida. And Senator Harrison A. Williams of New Jersey.
The FBI arranged meetings at airports, in a rented home in Washington, in Atlantic City hotel rooms, offices on Long Island and in Florida. They arranged for chartered jets, limos and parties. The team later even acquired a yacht, seized by U.S. Customs in a drug bust, to hold parties with politicians. The 65-foot Cheoy Lee motor yacht, decked in teak, was fitted with video and audio surveillance gear that could pick up and record conversations anywhere on board.
“Tony (DeVito, played by Amoroso) loved that boat,” says Weinberg. “When it came time to name it, he said, ‘I’m left-handed. Let’s call it Left Hand.’ I told him, ‘Tony, left hand means the Mafia.’ He put it on anyway.”
The script for most was remarkably similar. When Lederer, a Democrat from Philadelphia first elected to Congress in 1976, knocked on the door of room 717 of the Hilton Inn at Kennedy International Airport on a Tuesday evening, Errichetti was there waiting for him with Weinberg, and other undercover FBI agents posing as representatives of the fictitious sheik. The meeting was videotaped. It was explained that the sheik was looking for a sponsor in case he needed help getting into the country one day.
Amoroso explained later that he came up with the immigration ruse after reading a newspaper story about possible deportation problems facing deposed Nicaragua dictator Anastasio Somoza.
“I understand you can introduce legislation,” said DeVito, the conversation recorded and later played back before a federal jury.
“Right, a bill. Private bill,” agreed Lederer. “Sure.”
The congressman left the hotel with a brown bag containing $50,000 in cash. “Spend it well,” DeVito told him.
Michael “Ozzie” Myers, a former longshoreman with a vocabulary to match, brought one of the most memorable quotes to the sting operation when the issue of special legislation was introduced.
“I’m gonna tell you something real simple and short: Money talks in this business and bullshit walks. And it works the same way down in Washington,” he said. Before he left, he too, was given an envelope containing $50,000 in $100 bills.
DeVito again repeated his signature line. “Spend it well,” the undercover agent said.
Harrison A. Williams was considered the biggest prize of the FBI investigation. A long-time member of Congress who served more than two decades in the U.S. Senate, Williams was a liberal Democrat known as a tough legislator and champion of organized labor and social welfare programs who authored federal laws protecting pension rights and the first law providing mass transportation assistance to states. Known as “Pete” to his friends, Williams was low-key with a ready smile who served as a Navy pilot in World War II and later graduated from Columbia Law School.
But the FBI had learned Williams had a hidden interest in a titanium mining venture in Piney River, Va., and close associates of the senator were informed that Sheik Habib was willing to lend $100 million in exchange for using his influence to obtain government contracts for the mine’s output.
The subsequent meeting produced one of the most spellbinding images of the investigation, when surveillance video was presented at the trial of the senator.
The “sheik” was played by Richard Farhart, an FBI agent brought in from the Ohio office, who wore an Arab headdress and a suit, but said little during his meetings with Williams. Also there was Errichetti.
“You know what you could do and what not,” DeVito told him. “Based on that, I’ve explained it to the sheik and this is what we’ve really based our strength on, the strength that you have.”
Williams turned to the sheik. “If this can be put together, in my position with, within the government here, which goes back decades, and knowing as I do the people that make the decisions, with, when we’ve got it together, we move.”
In another meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York, Williams also assured the sheik he would help him gain permanent residency.
“You can leave with my assurance that I will do those things that will, will bring you on for the consideration of permanency,” he said.