Alleged cover-up cuts into Allen credibility

CORRUPTION INVESTIGATION: Lawyer says juries should know if star witness tried to hide relationships with underage girls.

December 12, 2009 

Anchorage resident Lisa Moore says she traded sex with then-Veco boss Bill Allen in 1996 for an apartment, money and jewelry. He was 59; she was 19.

She also says she introduced him to a 15-year-old girl who became his sex partner.

But the next year, an ex-boyfriend of Moore's got into legal trouble and threatened to blow the whistle on Allen's relationship with Moore and other teens, including the 15-year-old, Moore said, triggering a string of alleged cover-ups that now threaten to undermine the Alaska political corruption investigation.

Allen's conduct with that underage girl and at least one other has been the subject of an active Anchorage police investigation since 2008. That inquiry developed more urgency last spring when a prosecutor with the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section joined local detectives in the case and began traveling to Anchorage to interview witnesses, including a visit just last week.

But long before the authorities got involved, Allen reportedly went to great lengths to keep his sexual activities secret. When Moore told Allen she expected to be called as a witness at her ex-boyfriend's trial and forced to reveal Allen's seamy and possibly criminal private life, Allen immediately sent her, her brother and her fiance on the lam to California to prevent her from being subpoenaed, Moore told an Anchorage police detective and elaborated in recent interviews with the Daily News.

That trip, characterized as a "potential obstruction of justice" when first made public in a federal court filing last month, are among the issues cited by former state House Speaker Pete Kott in his effort to throw out his conviction on corruption charges. Allen was a key witness in Kott's case, but Kott's lawyers weren't told by prosecutors about the California trip, which could have undermined Allen's credibility under cross-examination by a defense attorney.

Kott's lawyer has also said Allen's credibility could have been challenged by other allegations that were known by the government at the time of Kott's trial but only recently revealed to the defense. Among them: new details about assertions by the underaged girl, Bambi Tyree, now 28, that she lied under oath about her relationship with Allen at Allen's request, and that Moore was asked by Allen's attorney to swear that Allen did not have sex with Tyree when she was 15, even though she said she observed it.

Allen has told FBI agents he never asked anyone to lie under oath or tried to hide witnesses to avoid subpoenas. Messages left with his attorney in Anchorage this week weren't returned.

DISCREDITING INFORMATION

Allen, after pleading guilty in 2007 to bribery and other corruption charges, was also the key witness in the trials of former state Rep. Vic Kohring and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Stevens' charges were thrown out in April after his conviction. Kott and Kohring are saying they were likewise unfairly tried, and have been released from prison while their cases are sorted out. All said that prosecutors failed to provide them with discrediting information they knew about Allen and other witnesses as required by law.

For instance, in a letter to Stevens' defense team on the eve of his trial in 2008, prosecutors asserted "the government is aware of no evidence to support any suggestion that Allen asked the 'other female' (Tyree) to make a false statement under oath." But in 2004, Tyree told a federal prosecutor and an FBI agent from Alaska precisely that, and Allen's attorney admitted in a 2004 letter to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage that he had the statement in his files, though he refused to turn it over.

Defense attorneys in the corruption cases weren't allowed to raise the issue of Allen's sexual conduct. The judges in those cases agreed with prosecution arguments that even if Allen had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, a felony under state law, it was irrelevant to whether he gave bribes and illegal gifts to public officials. Just mentioning such a sensational allegation could inflame the jury against Allen and divert attention from the evidence, the judges ruled.

But the new material raises questions about how far Allen would go to protect himself. If Allen schemed to prevent a witness from testifying about his sexual conduct or tried to get two witnesses to lie under oath, that could give defense attorneys new ammunition to attack his credibility.

Kott's attorney is already making those arguments after reviewing the new material.

"It showed prior acts of criminality, and it showed Bill Allen's desperate attempts to convince his victims to lie to protect him," Sheryl Gordon McCloud said in her motion to dismiss the charges or at least get a new trial. "Its newly released documents contain allegations and evidence that Bill Allen committed a multitude of primarily sex crimes against children, and that he sought to have them swear that he never committed such acts."

The six prosecutors in the Stevens case, including the four who tried Kott and Kohring, are under investigation for criminal contempt by a special prosecutor appointed by Stevens' trial judge. The Washington Post reported Dec. 3 that the special prosecutor will wrap up his investigation over the next two months with interviews of the prosecutors.

Moore, now 32, originally told her story in 2004 to Anchorage police, the FBI and prosecutors in the Anchorage U.S. Attorney's office. She and her mother said they were led to believe that Allen would be prosecuted for sexual abuse of a minor or federal child exploitation violations. When nothing happened, Moore said in the interview, she figured Allen was so powerful he could avoid prosecution.

But the case against Allen remains active. Moore said she has met several times in Anchorage with the Washington-based trial attorney in the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, which specializes in sex crimes involving minors.

Last month, Allen was sentenced to three years in prison on his bribery plea, though he remains free while the U.S. Bureau of Prisons determines where he will go.

With Allen headed to prison, Moore said she is more comfortable talking about him than before.

ALASKA POWERHOUSE

In March 1997, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce hailed Allen as one of the five most powerful individuals in Alaska. Allen was the only person on that list not holding elective office (the other four were Stevens, Sen. Frank Murkowski, Gov. Tony Knowles and Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom).

Allen regularly socialized with the state's top political and business leaders. He was the oil industry's most visible advocate, a power broker in Juneau and a major fundraiser for state and national Republicans. The chamber took note of the help he provided presidential aspirant Sen. Bob Dole and said his role as publisher of the Voice of the Times, his opinion section in the Daily News, "enhanced his credibility in Alaska."

A picture dated 1999 shows Allen with Rita Ivanova, a Russian woman he dated, at Murkowski's annual fishing event in Ketchikan. Allen is at the center of the picture, his arm draped around Ivanova, and on either side are Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., Murkowski, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla.

Allen's power and access continued to grow. He and Stevens, the most senior Republican in the Senate, would rendezvous at a desert resort in Arizona for annual "boot camps" where they would forswear whiskey and beer, eat healthy and take long walks to shed extra pounds.

In 2000, Allen began renovating Stevens' Girdwood home, a multi-year project that cost him and Veco about $250,000 -- and which Stevens, limited by Senate rules to accepting no more than about $300 a year in gifts, failed to disclose.

As active as his public life was, Allen's private life, by Moore's description, looked like a low-rent imitation of Playboy's Hugh Hefner.

Moore said she met Allen in September or October, 1996. Her roommate worked for a 24-hour escort service called Silk Stockings, and Allen, who was divorced, was a client, Moore said. She remembers the timing because it happened shortly after her own arrest for prostitution on Sept. 5, 1996. (Moore pleaded guilty and paid a $250 fine.)

The roommate called from Allen's house and asked Moore to pick her up.

"She said, 'You got to come in and see this guy's house,' " Moore recalled. "I was like, 'No, no, no,' and she was like, 'Just come on.' So I went in, met him, and he was like, 'Oh, I would just love to date you.' "

Moore said she wasn't interested in working as a prostitute after her arrest, and she told Allen no. But she said Allen kept calling her roommate.

"Just go out to eat with him," the roommate said. "He's the owner of Veco -- he's loaded."

Moore accepted a dinner date.

"What is it going to take to get you in bed?" Allen asked at the meal, Moore recalled.

"A lot," Moore said she responded.

"What's your motivation in life?" Allen asked.

"My whole goal in life right now is to get my own apartment, get a good job and get my daughter back," replied Moore, whose 3-year-old was living with her parents.

"By the next day, he had me in an apartment," Moore said. It was at the Castle Apartments on West 27th Avenue, a block and a half from Veco's then-headquarters on West Northern Lights Boulevard. The proximity allowed Allen to visit over lunch, she said.

Moore said Allen insisted she be monogamous with him and he promised the same with her. But that arrangement didn't last long, she said.

'TYREE MEETS ALLEN'

When she was 15, Moore was ordered to McLaughlin Youth Center after she stole her mother's credit card and used it to rent a limousine for the evening. One of the smartest, most streetwise girls at the juvenile hall was someone three years her junior, Bambi Tyree, Moore said. Tyree was especially adept at manipulating counselors, saying precisely what they wanted to hear at group sessions so she could do as she pleased at other times, Moore said. The girls became friends and continued the relationship after they got out.

When Moore moved into the Castle Apartments in 1996, Tyree, then 15, was struggling with a crack cocaine addiction and spending time at the home of Josef Boehm, the owner of Alaska Industrial Hardware, himself a cocaine addict, Moore said. Boehm, now 65 and in federal prison in Texas, was known to Tyree and other addicted girls as "Joe Millionaire" for the crack he traded for sex.

Moore said Allen was no friend of Boehm and strongly opposed illegal drug use. She thought Allen could help her friend Tyree by paying for her rehabilitation. Around October or November 1996, Moore introduced Allen to Tyree. A few days later, when she went to Allen's home on a "date," she brought Tyree, who wouldn't turn 16, the age of consent, until Dec. 17. The three had sex in Allen's hot tub, she said. Tyree stayed with her at the Castle Apartments, and would be there when Allen came over. There were times when Moore, Tyree and two other friends would join Allen in bed. Another time, Moore said, she witnessed a different friend who was 15 have oral sex with Allen in Allen's car.

Whenever Allen had sex with one of her friends, Moore said, he gave the friend $100 and Moore $500.

Allen knew Tyree was 15 because he helped her celebrate her 16th birthday, Moore said. Among the birthday and Christmas presents he handed Moore and Tyree were rings worth about $5,000 each, Moore said.

Moore's relationship with Allen began to sour in the spring of 1997. Tyree had moved out, and Moore found out Allen was still seeing Tyree behind her back.

"As long as I was there, or I knew about it, it wasn't that big of an issue," Moore said. But now it felt like Allen wasn't upholding his end of the bargain.

"The day I broke up with him, I was like, 'I don't want to see you any more, I'm done with you, you're a pervert!' is what I told him. The next day, there was an eviction notice on the door, my phone was already off and my cable -- and I'm like, why would you do that? You say you love me, you want to take care of me for the rest of my life, just because I get mad and break up with you because you're sleeping with a 15-year-old and all my other friends -- he slept with all of my friends, all of them."

'WHAT IF YOU GUYS LEFT THE STATE?'

Moore, still 19, began dating a man her own age, Aaron Pinsly. But then she learned that a different 15-year-old girl -- a runaway -- was staying at Pinsly's house and having sex with him. Moore called the cops. The girl was taken into custody at Pinsly's house.

A few weeks later, Anchorage police Det. Lorraine Shore persuaded the 15-year-old girl to call Pinsly to see if he would admit having had a sexual relationship with her. He did.

Pinsly was arrested July 31, 1997, for sexual abuse of a minor.

While Pinsly awaited trial, Moore said, she got a call from Shore looking for an address to serve her with a subpoena. Moore also got a call from Pinsly in jail.

"He was mad because he knew I was the one that called in -- I never hid that fact," Moore said. "He was like, 'If you go through with this and you testify against me, then I'm going to bring up everything that happened between you and Bill and I'll make a deal with them to testify against him.' "

Moore figured that Pinsly was trying to prevent her from testifying, a goal Allen seemed to share when she told him about Pinsly's threat, she said.

"What if you guys left the state?" Allen suggested, according to Moore. As he thought about it, he recommended she involve her brother Jeremy, who had a spotless criminal record and could pass a drug test for a new job. Jeremy could get the tickets, rent the hideout apartment, and provide support with a job.

"It was obstructing justice if you're avoiding a subpoena, so he put everything in my brother's name and we left the next day," Moore said.

"(Allen) told me I was the key to the whole thing," Jeremy Moore said in an interview.

Lisa Moore, by then 20, had an 18-year-old boyfriend, a man she would eventually marry. He went along as well. Jeremy Moore was 21.

Their destination would be Bakersfield, Calif., an oil town in the desert north of Los Angeles. As the payment for uprooting their lives, Allen promised them an apartment, a car and jobs on a drilling rig run by his brother, Roger Allen, Jeremy Moore said. Jeremy Moore quit his job at Walmart in Alaska, believing Allen that he'd be making $3,000 a month on the rig.

Jeremy Moore said Veco paid to fly them to Seattle; he said Allen identified them as Veco employees on expense documents. To reduce the chances of their destination being traced, he said, Allen gave them cash for bus tickets from there to Bakersfield. Allen was in Seattle when they got there, and met them in Bakersfield, he said.

Allen told them to not call any friends back in Alaska. He bought pagers for them to communicate with their mother in Anchorage.

Allen wasn't only concerned about legal issues, but also his reputation, Jeremy Moore said. "He even told me he'd be mortified if this ever got out into the papers," Jeremy Moore said.

But Roger Allen didn't have a job for him or Moore's fiance. And there was no car, only two mountain bikes. The house he got them was roach infested, Jeremy and Lisa said.

Instead of the rig, Jeremy Moore said, Allen got him work packing drilling mud at a Bakersfield company called GEO Drilling, a dusty, dirty job. Two weeks later, when his first paycheck showed he was making $8 an hour, less than he was making at Walmart, he quit, withdrew the money from the bank account Allen opened in his name, and flew home.

"Bill was really mad that I came back," Jeremy Moore said. His sister and her fiance abandoned the hideout after another month or two. They sold everything that Allen had bought them, bought train tickets to Seattle and flew from there to Anchorage.

When she ran into Allen a few days later, he was shocked they had returned, she said. "What the hell are you doing here?" he said, according to Lisa Moore.

Pinsly ended up not going to trial. Offered a plea bargain by the Anchorage district attorney's office, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of coercion and served about a year in prison, then moved to Las Vegas, where his mother and father live. He didn't respond to letters sent to him and his father by the Daily News.

Pinsly's 15-year-old victim is now married and living in the South. In a telephone interview, she said she knew that Moore had been Pinsly's girlfriend but didn't know Moore had turned her in and knew nothing about a threat from Pinsly to expose Allen. She also remembered Tyree from McLaughlin, but didn't know that Tyree was connected to the Pinsly case.

Shore, the detective, is retired and living in Washington state. She recalled Pinsly's case but said she investigated too many crimes to remember many of the details.

In their Sept. 9, 2008, pretrial disclosure letter to Sen. Stevens' lawyers, the Justice Department prosecutors characterized the 1997 Bakersfield trip this way:

"The adult female (Lisa Moore) also alleged that Allen provided her with a trip outside Alaska for the purpose of preventing the adult female to testify in an unspecified proceeding." When asked about the matter, the prosecutors continued, Allen "denied ever causing anyone to leave the state of Alaska to prevent testimony in any type of proceeding."

Two years after Bakersfield, Allen again tried to move Moore and her family out of state, this time paying $10,000 to get them all to Kennewick, Wash., Moore and her brother said. But that also didn't go well, and the family struggled to make ends meet. Moore's mother, Maryann Bright, said Allen had promised to buy the family a house but didn't. Lisa Moore and her mother returned to Alaska in June 1999 to ask Allen for more money.

"This man's up here, has all this money, living lavish, and we're down there like struggling our butts off to make it and we're there because he wants us there," Moore said. But Allen wouldn't give them anything and told them to talk to his attorney, she said.

Moore and Bright said the attorney offered them $5,000 if Moore would sign a sworn statement that Allen never had a sexual relationship with Tyree or any other underage girl.

Lisa Moore said she refused to sign. The money wasn't enough to buy her silence and conspire in perjury, nor would it pay their bills in Kennewick, she said. That same month, Tyree signed such a statement, according to an interview she gave to an FBI agent and an assistant U.S. Attorney in 2004.

In that interview, according to an FBI record given to Kott's lawyer and filed in his case, Tyree acknowledged having had sex with Allen when she was 15. (Tyree's name was blacked out in the filed document, though her identity was unmistakable.)

"(Tyree) previously signed a sworn affidavit claiming she did not have sex with Allen," according to the FBI agent's report of the 2004 interview, as filed in Kott's case. "(Tyree) was given the affidavit by Allen's attorney, and she signed it at Allen's request. (Tyree) provided false information on the affidavit because she cared for Allen and did not want him to get into trouble with the law."

THE BOEHM CASE

The matter lay dormant until early 2004, when details of a joint city-state investigation of Boehm, the cocaine-addicted hardware-store owner, emerged in a federal criminal case. Boehm, two cr ack dealers and Tyree, then 23, were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine to persons under 21 and multiple counts of sexual trafficking of children.

In media accounts of the case, Moore said, she thought Tyree was inappropriately characterized as a victim, not an active perpetrator. She called up one of Boehm's attorneys, Rex Butler, and left a message offering to provide information on Tyree.

Butler called back but said he didn't think he could use her information. A few days later, Moore said, she was visited by two FBI agents who asked her if she would cooperate in an investigation of Allen. She said she would.

On Feb. 10, 2004, they brought her to the FBI building, where she sat down with them and two Anchorage police detectives, including Det. Kevin Vandegriff, who also was involved in the Boehm case. Only Vandegriff's notes of the interview have emerged, filed last month in the Kott case. While all the names of witnesses and victims were blacked out in the report, Moore filled them in during an interview with the Daily News.

The report spans Moore's entire story, from how she met Tyree and Allen, her introduction of them to each other, the Bakersfield trip, and more. She said Vandegriff's report mischaracterized the affidavit she was asked to sign by Allen's lawyer. The report said she was asked to swear that she didn't have sex with Allen, while Allen's lawyer actually wanted her to say that she didn't observe an underage Tyree have sex with Allen, Moore said.

After that interview, she returned one more time to the FBI office, this time with her diary detailing her relationship with Allen, plane tickets and receipts for things he had bought her, photographs, and other evidence. Moore said she never got it back. In a later report, Vandegriff said it all disappeared.

The assistant U.S. attorney who attended the Moore interview and prosecuted the Boehm case, Frank Russo, has said he asked Vandegriff to suspend his investigation in 2004 to avoid being distracted in the complicated run-up to Boehm's trial. But in the end, there was no trial -- all the defendants pleaded guilty. No one has said why the Allen sex case continued to lay dormant even as he fell under suspicion, later in 2004, for the massive corruption of Alaska politics.

In September 2007, four months after Allen pleaded guilty to bribery, the Daily News began investigating his connection to Tyree. Around December, a little more than a month before the paper published its first story on the subject, Vandegriff reopened the Allen investigation. He left his card at every known residence where Moore had stayed. She found one of the cards and called him. On Jan. 2, 2008, she consented to a long videotaped interview with him, once again giving her whole story. A portion of that report was also filed in the Kott case last month.

In February 2008, Vandegriff and the FBI agent who had interviewed Moore in 2004, John Eckstein, searched through all the files from the Boehm case looking for Moore's diary and the other evidence, but came up empty, according to another report. Vandegriff also reported that an assistant U.S. attorney recalled seeing the material Moore brought in and thought it had been left for safekeeping with an FBI agent or police officer.

Months later, with the looming Stevens case hanging on Allen's credibility, the lead FBI agent, Mary Beth Kepner, held a Sunday interview session with her star witness. The notes of that Allen interview, as filed in the Kott case, show it was conducted Sept. 7, 2008, two weeks before Stevens' trial opened and more than two years after Allen agreed to cooperate in the corruption investigation.

Kepner asked Allen about Moore. He acknowledged having a sexual relationship with Moore, describing her as "an adult prostitute." No details of the relationship were reported. There was no indication Kepner asked him about Bakersfield. There's no way to know, using records that have been publicly filed, whether or when Kepner questioned Allen about Tyree.

EXTORTION?

But Allen offered a much harsher account of the 1999 request for additional financial support in Kennewick, Wash. He told Kepner that Moore and her mother were seeking $25,000 and termed it extortion. They threatened to expose his relationships with Moore and the underage Tyree, Allen said. Allen said he refused to pay and referred the matter to his attorney, Jim Gilmore.

Later, after Boehm was arrested, Allen said, Moore again tried to extort him. Tyree volunteered to handle it with Allen's lawyer, Allen said. That would be five years after Moore and Tyree initially reported being asked to sign affidavits.

Tyree, in her own interview with Kepner in 2007, said she came up with the idea to "sign a document to prevent further extortions." But the report of that interview, filed by prosecutors in the Kott case, was heavily redacted and its context unclear.

Allen told Kepner he didn't know what happened after he turned the matter over to his attorney, but he denied ever asking Tyree to make a false statement or offering money to anyone to lie under oath. He also denied he sent the Moore family to Washington state to hide them, but rather to help them "make a fresh start in a new area."

Gilmore, Allen's former attorney, now retired and living in Gig Harbor, Wash., didn't return messages left on his home message machine or with his wife. His former Anchorage partner, Brian Doherty, hung up on a Daily News reporter asking about the Moore matter.

In a letter to the U.S. Attorney's Office filed under seal in the Boehm case in 2004 but unsealed last month at the government's request, Gilmore acknowledged possessing a "recorded statement" taken from Tyree in his office on June 19, 1999. He refused to disclose the statement, saying it was covered by attorney-client privilege and the privacy afforded to attorney work product. The letter was signed by Doherty on behalf of Gilmore.

Tyree didn't respond to a request for an interview made through her attorney. After pleading guilty in the Boehm case and cooperating with federal authorities, she was sentenced to three years in prison and was released in 2006.

Moore denied trying to squeeze Allen, though she believes he owed her then and still owes her.

"I was his girlfriend," she said. "He promised to take care of me for the rest of my life. I never blackmailed him, though -- I never extorted him, never, nothing. I just walked away from it all."

Contact reporter Richard Mauer at 257-4345.

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