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Juneau man indicted for witness retaliation faces 30-year term

Jerzy Shedlock

A Juneau man was indicted in Anchorage federal court on Friday for retaliation against a witness who spoke out during a drug ring trial, according to the Alaska U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Twenty-one-year-old Mason T. Baker, a resident of Alaska’s capital city, was arraigned Thursday on a one-count indictment. Baker pleaded not guilty, but the court ordered him detained until trial.

On July 3, Baker allegedly assaulted and injured the unidentified witness. The indictment said the defendant, who now faces 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, attacked the witness because he or she gave testimony in another Juneau-based, federal trial against Richard Corum.

California resident Corum was convicted of drug conspiracy earlier this summer for his role in a lucrative oxycontin ring that generated millions of dollars from 2007 to 2011, the Juneau Empire reported. State prosecutors said the conspirators bought the prescription pills for $13 a pop and then sold them for about triple that price.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said instances in which people retaliate against witnesses are rare in Alaska for federal and state cases. But such retaliation does occur in wide array of cases, from domestic violence to drug charges, and the penalties on the federal level are severe, he said.

The court will determine the length of Baker’s sentence based on the seriousness of the July attack, the details of which have not been made public, and his criminal history. Baker has criminal and misdemeanor offenses dating back six years, when he was just a teenager, according to online court records.

The DEA and Alaska State Troopers helped with the case, according to a press release. A trial is set for Dec. 17 in Juneau.

Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com