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Cowdery trial is postponed

State Sen. John Cowdery's corruption trial was postponed until March at a hearing Tuesday morning.

Cowdery's attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, cited the mass of documents turned over by the prosecution as a reason to continue the case. His request was joined by the prosecution team -- Assistant U.S. Attorney James Goeke in Anchorage and two public integrity section attorneys from the Justice Department over the phone from Washington.

Cowdery, the fifth state legislator charged in the federal public corruption investigation, attended the hearing with his wife and daughter. The 78-year-old Republican has reported being ill and was in a wheelchair for the hearing.

The two sides estimated Cowdery's trial would take up to two weeks. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline ordered the trial to begin March 31.

Goeke asked Beistline if he "would be in the district" in the coming days without saying why the judge might be needed. Beistline said he would be available.

Neither side would comment about whether there were negotiations for a plea deal.

Cowdery is defending himself against a two-count conspiracy and bribery indictment accusing him of scheming with executives from the former oil field service company Veco Corp. to bribe another state senator during the oil-tax fight in the 2006 Legislature.

Anchorage Daily News