The long-delayed corruption trial for former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch inched forward Wednesday when a time was set for a jury to start hearing his case -- 9 a.m. on May 9, four years and six days after his indictment. But before the 10- to 15-day trial can begin, Weyhrauch's attorneys say they have plenty of issues left for U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to rule on. Among them are allegations that the investigation and indictment were so tainted by government misconduct that charges should be dismissed.
Weyhrauch, a Republican who last represented Juneau in the state House in 2006, was indicted the following year with former House Speaker Pete Kott over their roles in helping Veco Corp., an oil-field contractor, try to limit oil taxes. Initially facing four charges including conspiracy and bribery, Weyhrauch successfully appealed one count to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining other defendants nationwide in limiting the role of the federal fraud statute in corruption cases.
Kott was convicted and sentenced in 2007, though he is out of prison while he appeals.
In court Wednesday morning, Ray Brown, one of Weyhrauch's attorneys, said he hopes to prove government misconduct by compelling testimony from the FBI agent originally in charge of the Alaska corruption investigation, Mary Beth Kepner.
Kevin Driscoll, the latest in a list of 11 federal prosecutors to appear in the case -- most have been from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section -- told Sedwick that he believed many of the pre-trial arguments he expects to be raised by Weyhrauch's defense are irrelevant to the charges.