Prosecutors in the U.S. Department of Justice are finally being called out for singling out Republican politicians and others they dislike. One of the victims of gross over prosecution was former Congressman Rick Renzi. As a Republican representing a swing district in Arizona, he was a juicy target to take down. A scandal was concocted to tarnish him and hence Republicans, paving the way for a Democrat to replace him, which happened. The DOJ prosecuted Renzi over a “land swap,” language that sounds vaguely unethical but there was nothing remotely unethical or illegal about the particular deal even had he gone through with it, and he would not have received any financial profit, as I explained in my previous article. The exchange of land merely benefited the government and the neighboring Fort Huachuca military base.
Renzi began serving a three-year prison sentence in February, but new evidence has recently emerged that will likely exonerate him. His attorneys were just informed that two FBI agents advised the prosecution’s key witness Philip Aries “on numerous occasions” that he would receive a monetary award for testifying at trial against Renzi. Since the trial, Aries has twice asked the government about collecting his reward. Aries was in financial trouble in 2007 and filed bankruptcy in 2010 — clearly someone with a strong financial incentive to testify against Renzi. Aries has even admitted that he “always tried to be helpful” to the government.
The government never bothered to disclose any of this to Renzi until April of this year, well after the trial had ended and Renzi had tried to appeal. In fact, the prosecution solicited testimony during trial from Aries indicating the opposite, that he had no financial stake in the trial. Not disclosing evidence favorable to the defendant constitutes a Brady violation, a requirement made into law in the 1963 case Brady v. Maryland.