Former Ariz. lawmaker pleads guilty to wire fraud

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- For more than 13 years, Richard Miranda served in the Arizona State Legislature as a lawmaker.

On Wednesday in a federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix, Miranda admitted to being a law breaker.

Miranda, 56, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion charges before U.S District Court Judge Rosyln Silver

The former state lawmaker admitted to selling a building for $144,000 that belonged to a non-profit organization he operated in Surprise called Centro Adelante Campesino.

Authorities said he sold the building without authorization from the group's board and kept the money for himself.

The Democrat also admitted to not reporting more than $50,000 in income to the Internal Revenue Service.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the government is recommending that Miranda receive a prison term of between 21 months and 27 months.

He must also pay restitution of at least $144,000 and cooperate with the IRS in settling any tax liabilities between the years of 2006 and 2011.

A repentant Miranda emerged from the courthouse and expressed regret for his actions.

"I take full responsibility," he told reporters. "I hope I can make up for the sadness and pain I have caused my family and my community."

Miranda is scheduled to be sentenced in June. He faces up to up to 25 years in prison and a maximum fine of $350,000.

He resigned from the legislature in April citing family and medical issues.

On Wednesday he admitted the resignation was part of the plea agreement.