"Nothing more than wild conjecture based on erroneous and stale information."
That's how federal prosecutors sum up accusations of bias by former Rep. Vic Kohring against the judge who presided over his corruption trial last year.
Kohring wants the convictions thrown out or a new trial granted with a different judge.
Prosecutors are fighting that. In a 17-page court document filed Monday, prosecutors say Kohring's allegations come too late, are without merit, and don't justify a new trial or even a hearing.
Not so, said Kohring's lawyer, John Henry Browne of Seattle.
"I certainly hope the judge takes this more seriously than the government does," Browne said in a voice mail message. "Their brief is full of sarcasm and completely ignores the standard of law to be applied."
In a motion filed Feb. 1, Kohring accused U.S. District Judge John Sedwick of bias because of what he called "an extremely antagonistic relationship" with Sedwick's wife, Deborah.
Kohring asserted that he sponsored legislation which resulted in Sedwick's wife losing her job and taking a $10,000-a-year pay cut for a lesser position.
But that's not what happened, according to state officials with what is now called the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
The 1999 legislation led to the merger of two state departments. While Deborah Sedwick's job as commissioner of one department was technically eliminated, she ended up as commissioner of the revamped agency. Her pay went up over the years, not down.
"Kohring, at best, has tendered only rumors, innuendos, and unsupported allegations," assistant U.S. attorney Joe Bottini and Edward Sullivan, of the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, said in their filing.
To start with, Judge Sedwick said in a court order earlier this month he had no recollection of talking with his wife or anyone else about the actions of Kohring, and that he didn't remember Kohring being involved, prosecutors wrote.
In an interview earlier this month, Kohring described Deborah Sedwick as his "worst political rival and enemy." In court, he filed a press release from 1998 in which he likened the spending habits of state employees to that of "drunken sailors" and said that Deborah Sedwick had called his proposed budget cuts "draconian" and "devastating."
But the government was unable to find that old press release in archives on Kohring's legislative Web site even though many others were still available there. "Curiously absent," prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors also noted that Kohring's motion to dismiss the case came three months after a jury convicted him of bribery, conspiracy and attempted extortion, and just days before he was scheduled to be sentenced. The usual deadline for such motions is seven days after the verdict. Kohring says he didn't make the connection between his political rival and the judge until after his trial.
Kohring also is questioning whether the judge is biased for other reasons. The judge lives across the street from government witness and former Veco chairman Bill Allen, for instance. And he went to high school with another government witness, former Veco vice president Rick Smith.
There's no evidence Sedwick and Allen "have had any interaction whatsoever," prosecutors wrote. Same with the judge and Smith, they said.
Prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison term for Kohring. The judge delayed the sentencing until he rules on the question of bias.
Kohring, a Republican from Wasilla, was elected seven times but stepped down before his trial.