Rick Renzi betrayed his office and the trust of the electorate for $733,000.
As a consequence, he increased public cynicism and frustration, stalled a land trade for an $11 billion copper mine, made it harder to make legitimate land trades for things like university campuses — and squandered the millions of dollars needed for the eight-year ordeal of prosecuting him despite his shameless denial of responsibility.
The sentence: Three years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Daniel Laycock, a hapless, pitiable addict with a history of non-violent drug offenses was hanging out on a Payson street with other druggies, when a cop stopped him. The officer searched Laycock and found small quantities of oxycodone, meth and heroin. Drug tests showed Laycock had meth, opiates and marijuana in his system.
His sentence: 9.2 years in prison.
Taylor James Vance-Parker set fire to an empty Little League concession stand, for reasons that remain mysterious. An addict with a history of petty crime, police arrested him living in an abandoned trailer. He pleaded guilty to trespassing, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, arson and burglary.
His sentence: Five years in prison and $83,000 in restitution.
So it goes.
Renzi inflicted grave harm on society by deliberately, shamelessly, relentlessly abusing the public trust and his high office. We pay congressmen a generous salary and offer lavish perks. But that wasn’t enough for him. He corrupted his office and betrayed the voters.
What’s he get? A wrist slap.
Those others — the lost, despairing, self-destructive, frightening addicts — also do harm. But nothing comparable to the damage Renzi did to the community he promised so solemnly to serve.
But then, none of the crooked bankers and stock brokers and hedge fund scam artists who crashed the economy, threw millions out of work and nearly destroyed the life savings of a generation went to jail — although they lied and manipulated and covered up.
Prisons remain mostly for the poor, for minorities, for non-violent drug offenders and for people who can’t afford a good lawyer.
Every now and then, a privileged scumbag like Renzi ends up in prison.
But one thing you can count on: He won’t stay long.