Former Rep. Miranda to go to prison for fraud

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Former state Rep. Richard Miranda is going to federal prison.

On Monday a judge sentenced the disgraced ex-lawmaker to 27 months in prison for ripping off a children's charity and going on a spending spree.

Miranda pleaded guilty in March to tax evasion and wire fraud for taking $145,000 from a charity he ran that helped children of poor working families.

According to court records, the Tolleson Democrat used the money to pay off a substantial amount of personal credit card debt. He then used the rest to pay for clothes, dinners and out-of-state trips to California and Las Vegas.

In sending Miranda to prison, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver ignored more than a dozen letters from local elected officials, school board members and Congressman Ed Pastor asking for leniency.

Miranda is one of three state lawmakers who resigned this year under controversy. State Sen. Scott Bundgaard and state Rep. Daniel Patterson resigned amid separate ethics investigations involving domestic violence allegations.

Miranda stepped down in February. At the time he cited health and family reasons. It wasn't until later that news broke he was under a federal investigation for his part in stealing from Centro Adelante Campesino where he worked as the executive director.

Miranda sold off the organization's single asset, which was a building it owned in Surprise for $250,000, according to court records. He told members of the charity that the money was to be used for scholarships.