State Rep. Tom Anderson, facing seven federal felony charges including allegations of extortion, money laundering and bribery, is replacing one high-profile defense lawyer with another.
Anchorage attorney and restaurateur Paul Stockler entered an appearance in the case on Friday and the arrangement was confirmed at a brief federal court hearing Monday.
He is a former state prosecutor who was a key part of the team that successfully defended Rob Kane and Security Aviation on federal weapons charges earlier this year. He usually handles complicated civil litigation, he said.
Anderson originally had hoped to be represented by another prominent Anchorage attorney, Jeff Feldman. But Feldman is representing BP in an investigation into pipeline corrosion and has trials in civil cases coming up next year. He couldn't handle this as well, he earlier told the judge.
Anderson was indicted Dec. 6. He is so far the only person to face charges in an ongoing FBI probe into allegations of corruption involving Alaska legislators.
Anderson, whose term in office ends in mid-January, is accused of working with a lobbyist to set up a sham company. Payments were funneled through that shell, Pacific Publishing, to Anderson in exchange for helping a private corrections company with efforts to build a private prison in Alaska and operate an adolescent treatment center in Anchorage, according to the charges.
Those efforts failed. The corrections company, which was unnamed in the indictment but appears to be Cornell Companies, was reportedly unaware of the scheme, which was set up through an undercover informant.
Anderson's trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 12. Whether that date will stick is unclear. Anderson wants to go to trial, but Stockler said Monday he has just gotten the case and hasn't seen the government's evidence yet.
He spoke by cell phone from Houston, Texas, where he was representing an Alaska contractor in mediation of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
"I need to get home this week and read what the government has," Stockler said.
Daily News reporter Lisa Demer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 257-4390.
By LISA DEMER
Anchorage Daily News