Convicted Alaska lawmaker released to halfway house

Sean CockerhamMcClatchy-Tribune News Service

Former state Rep. Tom Anderson, sent to federal prison for corruption, was moved to a Seattle-area halfway house on Tuesday and will be released almost a year early.

Anderson's release date has been moved up to July 30 and he could be back in Alaska sooner than that. "He's being evaluated for placement on home confinement," said Chris Burke, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Burke said Anderson's release is classified as a Bureau of Prisons "substance abuse treatment release."

"Normally that means an inmate has completed a substance abuse program and has been granted some sort of time off for completion of that program," Burke said.

Non-violent federal inmates who complete a drug or alcohol treatment program while in prison can qualify to get as much as a year taken off their sentence, Anderson previously had been scheduled for release on April 9, 2012.

Anderson's lawyer in Anchorage, Fred Dewey, refused to answer any questions about what was going on. "Right now we're just not commenting on anything," he said.

A federal jury convicted Anderson in 2007 of taking secret payments in return for pushing a private prison company's interests in Alaska. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick sentenced him to five years in prison for the charges of bribery, conspiracy, extortion and money laundering.

Anderson, a Republican, represented the Muldoon area of East of Anchorage for two terms in the state House of Representatives. He was the first lawmaker convicted as a result of the broad FBI investigation into corruption in Alaska politics. Anderson contended in his trial that he was set up by the government, but after his conviction admitted he did wrong, violated the public trust and deserved punishment.

Anderson was moved Tuesday to the halfway house, where he checked in about 1 p.m. Prison spokesman Burke said the facility is in the "Seattle area," but could not be more specific. Anderson may be required to live at the halfway house until his July 30 release, Burke said, but could be allowed into home confinement sooner.

Home confinement often involves living with a relative. Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire, who has a son with Anderson, filed for divorce from him last year.

Anderson's father, also named Tom, is a former director of the Alaska State Troopers.

Anderson had been serving his time since his 2007 sentencing at the federal prison facility in Sheridan, Ore. The minimum security work camp in Sheridan has housed other figures convicted in Alaska's political corruption scandals as well. Former state Rep. Pete Kott served time at Sheridan. Rick Smith, former vice president of the oil field services company Veco Corp., is currently at Sheridan.

Smith is scheduled to be released on July 20.

Find Sean Cockerham online at adn.com/contact/scockerham or call him at 257-4344.


By SEAN COCKERHAM
scockerham@adn.com