Kohring says jury should have heard about Allen sex case

APPEALS: Convicted legislator says the credibility of testimony could have been questioned.

September 8, 2010 

Former Veco Corp. chief Bill Allen was susceptible to pressure by federal prosecutors to testify against politicians accused of corruption because of a "looming child sex investigation," convicted Alaska legislator Vic Kohring argues in his appeal.

Kohring, a Republican from Wasilla, and Pete Kott, a former House Speaker from Eagle River, both have filed new appeals before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both include the sexual misconduct allegations against Allen as among the reasons their cases should be dismissed. Oral arguments are scheduled for Oct. 6 in Seattle.

When Kohring and Kott underwent separate trials in 2007, they knew little about criminal investigations of Allen involving sex with underage girls. Kohring was convicted of conspiracy, bribery and attempted extortion. Kott was convicted of conspiracy, bribery and extortion.

Allen was the government's star witness, and his credibility was key to the prosecution case. Among other appeal points, the former legislators' argue that jurors might have reached different verdicts if damaging information about Allen had been revealed during the trials.

Prosecutors shared details about Allen and underage girls with the legislators' defense lawyers only after the collapse of the 2008 conviction of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. His case was thrown out for prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors generally are required to provide defense lawyers with evidence that could help their side but improperly withheld thousands of pages of documents before Kott and Kohring's corruption trials, the defense lawyers argue.

Now, with that previously undisclosed evidence in hand, both Kott and Kohring are pursuing appeals in which they seek to have their cases thrown out, or at the least, hearings on the new evidence. Kohring also argues that, at the least, he deserves a lighter sentence.

Kott was serving a six-year sentence in federal prison and Kohring was serving 42 months when they were released last year while their cases underwent further review. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick, who presided over Kott and Kohring's trials, since has rejected their motions to have charges dismissed because of prosecutor missteps. That sent the cases back to the appeals court.

WAS THERE A DEAL?

Top officials with the U.S. Justice Department recently informed Anchorage police they would not be pursuing sex charges against Allen and "no explanation has been provided for that decision," Kohring's lawyers, Michael Filipovic and Corey Endo, say in the appeal filed this week.

"To the extent it was because of his cooperation, whether explicit or implied, that information should be disclosed," the defense lawyers say.

Prosecutors have until next week to respond to Kohring's appeal.

Kott raised similar issues when he filed his appeal in July. Prosecutors responded that the allegations of sexual misconduct weren't relevant and wouldn't have changed a thing in a case with strong evidence from secretly recorded audio and video.

"At trial, Allen already acknowledged that he was the center of a corruption scheme involving Alaskan and U.S. legislators, that he had violated laws of the United States, and that he had done so for years," Peter Koski, a trial attorney in the U.S. Justice Department Public Integrity Section, and Kevin Feldis, the criminal division chief for the U.S. Attorney's office in Anchorage, said in the government response to Kott's pleading. "Coupled with clearly criminal conversations with Kott that were captured on tape and played for the jury, it is unreasonable to believe that a single question about Allen's alleged sexual misconduct would have altered the jury's verdict."

QUESTIONS ABOUT CASE

After the Daily News published a lengthy story last month about the decision not to prosecute the case of Paula Roberds, who said she first had sex with Allen when she was a 15-year-old prostitute in Spenard, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking an explanation.

"I respectfully ask that you personally inquire into the circumstances under which this prosecution was declined and provide my staff with a briefing at your earliest convenience," Murkowski wrote on Aug. 21. "If an acceptable response is not forthcoming, it would be appropriate to ask the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility to pursue a formal inquiry with respect to this matter." OPR investigates allegations of misconduct involving Justice Department attorneys.

As of Wednesday, Murkowski hadn't received a response from the attorney general, spokesman Robert Sumner said. Last week, state Attorney General Dan Sullivan said his office is looking into whether to pursue state charges.

Besides the sexual misconduct issues, prosecutors failed to reveal how faulty Allen's memory was or that the "handfuls" of cash that Allen gave to Kohring in a March 30, 2006, meeting, which was recorded secretly on video, might have been as little as $200, Kohring's lawyers contend.


Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.

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