Anderson admits he broke law, violated trust

Lisa Demer

Three months after a federal jury convicted him of seven felonies including bribery, former state Rep. Tom Anderson acknowledges that he broke the law, violated the public trust and must be punished.

Anderson didn't testify during the 10-day trial this summer. But he fought the charges, and until now maintained publicly that he was innocent.

His sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 15 before U.S. District Judge John Sedwick. A pre-sentence investigation report recommends he serve five to six years.

In a memo filed with the court on Monday, Anderson's lawyer says he is seeking "leniency, compassion and mercy." Except for the circumstances in the corruption case, Anderson has been a "tireless and selfless representative and advocate for the people of the State of Alaska," wrote defense lawyer Paul Stockler.

Anderson, a Republican who represented East Anchorage for two terms, shouldn't be sentenced to any more than two years and nine months, his lawyer argues.

"I accept full responsibility for the choices I've made and the damage I've done and the damage here transcends the personal loss and pain that has been suffered by my wife and family," Anderson says in the sentencing memorandum. His wife is state Sen. Lesil McGuire, and his father is former director of Alaska State Troopers.

Anderson was convicted of participating in a scheme in 2004 and 2005 with former Cornell Cos. lobbyist Bill Bobrick and consultant Frank Prewitt in which payments were funneled to him in exchange for his pushing the company's interests. Prewitt was working undercover for the FBI, and Cornell was unaware of the scheme, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

"Mr. Anderson believed at the time, that his actions were not in any way unlawful," Stockler says in the 47-page sentencing memorandum.

"Rather, he erroneously and indeed naively thought that he could properly serve two masters: the people of the State of Alaska, and a private consulting client seeking to capitalize on access to a legislator."

Anderson now realizes no one could do that, his lawyer says.

By the time the conspiracy began, Anderson was friends with Bobrick. Their families socialized often, from "informal game nights" to outings at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. "Over time, Mr. Anderson permitted that personal relationship to cloud his moral and ethical judgment," Stockler wrote.

Anderson has no prior criminal convictions, his lawyer wrote.

Prosecutors have not yet filed their sentencing memorandum but will be seeking somewhere in the range of five years and three months to six years and six months, as recommended by the probation office in its report, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini said Monday.

It's a little late for Anderson to acknowledge what he did wrong, Bottini said. He could have pleaded guilty.

"He put us through a trial," the prosecutor said. "In our view he is not entitled to any consideration for acceptance of responsibility."

Efforts to reach Anderson and Stockler were unsuccessful Monday.

But in the new court filing, Stockler wrote that there is no need to hand Anderson a long sentence to deter others. The story already is known to politicians, lobbyists and public officials.

"Moreover, they are aware that, as a result of his misdeeds, Tom Anderson was publicly disgraced, is now deeply in debt, and has lost his professional reputation, job, financial security, Alaska Permanent Fund dividend and right to vote."

The document also quotes letters of support from Anderson's friends, family and colleagues. One is from House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez.

"Tom was a good legislator. In my opinion, he had the best interest of Alaskans on his moral and ethical compass," Harris is quoted as saying. Anderson got himself into a fix, Harris says, because he was "too naive or ill-prepared to recognize that politics and business are often comparable to a jungle."

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