And speaking of corruption, on this side of the river, we have Loren Jennings featured in the Post Review:

Sentencing date set for March 6 for Loren Jennings

Posted: 2/1/06

by Howard Lestrud

A sentencing date for former State Rep. Loren Jennings, of Harris, has been set, according to his attorneys Douglas A. Kelley and Steve Wolter. Jennings will appear for sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle at 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 6, 2006, in St. Paul.

Jennings was convicted last July 26 of two counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering.

Jennings was acquitted on four other counts including conspiracy charges to commit mail fraud and to commit money laundering.

The state lawmaker for 18 years, was accused of using his office to financially benefit a firm in which he had a financial investment. Jennings was defeated in a re-election bid in 2002. He ran as a Democrat each of his nine terms and several times, ran successfully in a primary after losing his partyâ??s endorsement.

During his time as a legislator, Jennings served as chairman of the House Regulated Industries Committee, which deals with utility issues. He became known for advocating expanded nuclear waste storage at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant. He and the then senator from his district, the late Sen. Janet Johnson, were at opposite sides of the spectrum on this issue.

Jennings was accused of using his position in the House to pass legislation that made it possible for ratepayersâ?? conservation funds to be spent on a utility pole recycling company, Northern Pole Inc. Jenningsâ?? companies loaned about $670,000 to Northern Pole. Jenningsâ?? lobbying of Minnesota Power and Northern States Power Co. (now Xcel Energy) resulted in payments of $650,000 to Northern Pole from conservation funds. More than $284,000 was said to have made payments on Jenningsâ?? loans.

Jennings faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both on each count of mail fraud, and up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both on the money laundering charge. The presentence investigation is now complete. Attorney Wolter said there may be some additional filings before sentencing.

Attorney Wolter said Jenningsâ?? legal team is optimistic that Judge Kyle will not give a sentence along the guidelines established by the government. â??There are many reasons Judge Kyle should be showing leniency,â? said Wolter. He pointed out that Almelund banker John James, who testified against Jennings, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for bank fraud and related charges.

Kelley and Wolter said that an appeal of the conviction will be filed within seven days of sentencing.

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