Feb 18, 2014 6:17 PM by Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Former Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi may remain free while he appeals his June convictions on public-corruption and money-laundering charges, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday..
The order by a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a decision by the trial judge. Federal prosecutors had opposed Renzi's request to remain out of prison during his appeal.
The appellate court panel said Renzi isn't likely to flee, doesn't pose a danger and has raised a substantial appeal issue that could result in a new trial if Renzi prevails in his appeal.
But the panel said it wasn't expressing an opinion on the merits of the appeal and that the trial judge will decide bail conditions.
In seeking Renzi's release, his lawyers argued that the trial judge allowed improper testimony in violation of a constitutional protection for legislative work; improperly limited testimony by Renzi's defense and evidence sought by Renzi; and permitted false trial testimony by prosecution witnesses.
Renzi was to have started serving his three-year prison sentence in December.
Renzi, a Republican, represented Arizona's 1st Congressional District from 2003 to 2009.
He didn't run for re-election in 2008 while facing federal charges accusing him of looting a family insurance business to help pay for his 2002 campaign and of using his office for personal gain by pushing a proposed land exchange involving a co-defendant.
The appeals court panel also said it will hear arguments on Renzi's appeal in Seattle during the week of June 16-20.