From the UT:
A politician who went to prison 20 years ago in one of Arizona’s most notorious public-corruption cases has apparently been practicing real estate in San Diego County for almost 14 years, using his son’s clean record to get a license.
Donald James Kenney, 73, was a real estate broker at Coldwell Banker in Encinitas until last month, after The Watchdog inquired about his past.
The Department of Real Estate began an investigation after The Watchdog inquiry and ordered Kenney on Wednesday to stop practicing real estate. The state concluded that Kenney deceitfully used the identity of his son John Kenney, 44, to obtain a license.
The elder Kenney, who lives in Carlsbad, denies any wrongdoing and denies that he is the lawmaker convicted in Arizona. He declined to meet in person to go over documents gathered by The Watchdog showing he is the former politician.
The elder Kenney and the convicted legislator share the same date of birth and the same three colleges on their résumé. They look the same in photographs. And a letter sent to Kenney as part of his recent effort to restore civil rights lost after his conviction in Arizona was addressed to his Carlsbad home.
Kenney, when he was a legislator, took $55,000 in a gym bag from a Phoenix police operative in a sting operation in 1990 and was sentenced to five years in prison.
In San Diego, Kenney trained his peers on real estate tax law. Someone who took one of his classes filed a complaint against him in October, and the state opened an investigation after the U-T began to ask questions.
Public records show real estate license No. 01246846 was issued in 1998 in the name of Donald John Mark Kenney, an Arizona native who is 44.
The number appeared on the elder Kenney’s business website, realtordonkenney.com, until the site was taken down last month. It also appeared on his profiles with Coldwell Banker, where company representatives declined to comment for this story.
Reached by The Watchdog, the elder Kenney said he’s no longer involved with Coldwell Banker or real estate in general. Given the state investigation, he said, it’s “reached a point where it’s not worth all this hassle.”
John Kenney, the former politician’s son in Washington state, said he never applied for a real estate license in any state and does not know why his information is in someone else’s application.
“It’s not me,” the son said. “They can check the fingerprints.”
Those seeking a broker’s license must disclose any misdemeanor or felony convictions. The application was marked “no prior convictions” and signed under penalty of perjury.
Throughout his promotional materials, the Encinitas broker touted himself as a 2-for-1 package.
“With Don you get a great Realtor and an attorney in one – with no extra charge to you,” reads one of his Coldwell Banker profiles.
The Watchdog reviewed biographical material for Kenney when he was an Arizona legislator and as a real estate broker in San Diego County, including his public Facebook page.
Echoing the Congressional sting known as Abscam, Arizona’s version was known as AzScam.
Kenney, who was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, pleaded guilty to bribery, money laundering and other felonies. He was the self-described quarterback in an effort to legalize casino gambling in Arizona. The money in the gym bag came from a Phoenix Police Department operative posing as a gaming consultant from Nevada.
Before his sentencing, Kenney told a court-ordered psychologist he accepted full responsibility for his role in the debacle and “made no attempts to whitewash himself,” public documents say.
Earlier this year, Kenney filed to clear his name, saying he paid his debt to society. He had served 14 months in prison and more than three years on parole.
He asked the court to restore his civil rights because “he has been an exemplary citizen for the past two decades.” The request was granted on March 22 by a judge in Phoenix.
A second request, also filed this year, was for the court to dismiss the original charges. That part was denied with the court citing the “nature of offense.”
Even though his address is on paperwork from those proceedings, the real estate broker in Encinitas said none of that rings a bell. “That must have been another Kenney,” he said.