More legal maneuvering in Weyhrauch corruption trial

Richard Mauer

Former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch is trying once again to move his federal corruption trial to Juneau, his home and where he continues to practice law.

In a series of motions filed Friday, Weyhrauch also indicated that he and federal prosecutors are still trying to resolve disputes over evidence he is seeking from Justice Department files. Defendants are entitled to view evidence that could exonerate them, but disputes over such material are common in federal court.

Weyhrauch, a Republican who represented Juneau in the Alaska House from 2002 to 2006, is the last remaining untried defendant in the wide-ranging Alaska corruption investigation begun by the FBI in 2004. He's accused in a four-count indictment of secretly trying to get legal work for his private law firm from the oil field services company Veco in 2006 at the same time that Veco officials were actively lobbying the Legislature to lower oil company taxes.

Weyhrauch was initially charged with former House Speaker Pete Kott, but their trials were separated in 2007 when prosecutors appealed a pretrial ruling in the case. Weyhrauch had tried to move the case to Juneau then, but the judge turned him down.

Kott was convicted, though he's free on appeal.

Weyhrauch's trial is now set for May 9 in Anchorage. But in his latest request to U.S. District Judge John Sedwick, Weyhrauch says there are more reasons now than ever to hold the trial in Juneau. Most of the events alleged in the indictment took place there, many of the witnesses live in Juneau or Outside, and the court facilities are adequate, he said. Moving to Anchorage for the trial would be an additional hardship, he said.

"For four years he has had to fund his legal defense, all the way to the United States Supreme Court," said his attorney, Ray Brown. "Defending himself against the government's charges, and delays occasioned by their appeals, has cost him immeasurably in both financial and personal ways. Mr. Weyhrauch's wife and children live in Juneau. The toll the actual trial will have on his family is apparent."

In another filing, Weyhrauch indicated that a grand jury continued to hear evidence in his case after his 2007 indictment. He said he was seeking transcripts of grand jury testimony by his legislative and law office staff that took place in 2008.

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