Judge puts Weyhrauch's corruption trial on hold

Richard Mauer

Former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch's corruption trial has been put off indefinitely while an appeals court decides what to do with one of the felony charges against him.

In a brief hearing Friday morning, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick indicated he wanted nothing to do with a prosecution suggestion that he hear other issues in Weyhrauch's case that have nothing to do with the matter before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It didn't make sense to spend time generating briefs and doing legal research when a ruling by the 9th Circuit could spill into other parts of the case, "rendering what we do incomplete or wrong," Sedwick said.

Sedwick set aside Weyhrauch's Sept. 13 trial date. With briefs due by both sides to the 9th Circuit on Aug. 9, the soonest the appellate court could be expected to rule would be around Sept. 20, the judge said.

Sedwick didn't say what he would do in a related matter -- the sentencing of former Gov. Frank Murkowski's chief of staff, Jim Clark, on a conspiracy charge. Clark pleaded guilty in 2008, but his sentencing has been delayed so he could get credit for cooperating, including testifying against Weyhrauch. Sedwick had originally scheduled Clark's sentencing for Oct. 15.

Both Weyhrauch and Clark are Juneau attorneys. Clark's license has been suspended because of his guilty plea, but Weyhrauch continues to practice. Just this week, Weyhrauch argued a commercial fishing appeal in Anchorage before a visiting panel of 9th Circuit judges on a case that originated before Sedwick.

Weyhrauch was indicted in 2007 on conspiracy, attempted extortion, bribery and fraud charges over his relationship with the now-defunct oil-field services company Veco and its officials. But the fraud count, which is also part of the conspiracy charge, was thrown in doubt by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a similar case in June.

That ruling narrowed the scope of so-called "honest services" fraud, in which an official is accused of depriving others of honest service through hidden conflicts of interest and other self-serving behavior. The Supreme Court directed the 9th Circuit to reconsider Weyhrauch's fraud charge in light of its decision.

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