Nearly two years before he is to be released from a federal prison in California for attempting to rig Alaska's political process by buying off politicians, Bill Allen finally received some good news, if you can call it that.
The 73-year old former Alaska oilman watched his business empire, career and credibility implode amid a sweeping and high-profile public corruption probe. For about three years, he was federal prosecutors' ace-in-the-hole witness, admitting to offering cash and promises to state lawmakers who were enmeshed in a rewrite of the state's oil taxes.
More than one defense attorney for the growing list of indicted politicians linked to Allen's bribery attempted to discredit the government's star witness by showing he had a big secret to hide. His alleged taste for teenage girls deserved to be on the record, as did a supposedly suppressed investigation into the allegations. It was, they argued, a trade off: calling off the cops looking into accusations of child sexual abuse in exchange for Allen saying whatever the government wanted on the stand. Allen's credibility fell under further scrutiny during the trial of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens when it was revealed that prosecutors had gathered conflicting statements from Allen about his relationship to the senator, but only made the defense aware of the version that made Stevens look bad.
No judge in any of the trials allowed a jury to hear the claims and Allen denied the accusations through his lawyers. Later, when more women came forward claiming they had had underage sexual relations with Allen, the investigation was revived.
On Friday, an Anchorage Police Department spokesperson confirmed that Allen won't be charged, as did a second, unnamed person familiar with the case, according to AP.
In August 2008,
sat down with a young woman who claimed she'd been Bill Allen's underage prostitute starting in 1999. The alleged victim, identified in the story at the time by her middle name, Marie, is Paula Roberds. After our interview, she reported her past relationship with Allen to Anchorage police in August 2008.
Roberds told us at the time that Allen was her main client from 1999 to 2001, when she was a prostitute between the ages of 15 and 17. Roberds claimed Allen paid her more than $20,000 in cash and gifts, including flying her to Alaska for sex when she was briefly living in Seattle. The age of consent in Alaska is 16. There is no statute of limitations for sex crimes involving children.
"He didn't want anybody knowing that we were seeing each other," said Roberds, a single mother living in Anchorage. "He made me promise not to tell anybody because I was too young."
Roberds lived most of her life in Anchorage, but her mother's side of the family hails from Good News Bay, a Yupik Eskimo village in western Alaska. Roberds said her childhood was marred with hard times; an absent father and a mother who didn't pay much attention to her.
In 1999, she left her mom's home to live with a boyfriend. She said she soon took to the streets of Spenard, an Anchorage neighborhood, working as a prostitute. Her boyfriend acted as her pimp. She was 15, and based on photographs she provided of herself at the time, she looked it.
One night, near the corner of Spenard Road and 32nd Avenue, a white Land Rover pulled up alongside her. "I remember he rolled his window down and asked me if I wanted a ride. I jumped in," Roberds said. "He asked me if I was a cop. I said 'no.'" She claims this was the beginning of a two-and a-half-year sexual relationship with Allen, who at the time was in his early 60s.
Soon after they met in 1999, Roberds alleges Allen became her main client, spending "more money on me than anyone else." The sex happened at Allen's home, a Midtown storage lot where he kept a camper, and in hotels, including the Anchorage Hilton in downtown, according to her account. Over time, she learned that Allen owned VECO Corp. "He told me he was the founder of VECO," she said.
In mid-2000, Roberds moved to the Seattle area with her boyfriend, but she continued to see Allen. He paid for her to fly up to Anchorage, putting her up at the Hilton. "Every trip I came up here (Anchorage) on, I charged him $2,000," she said, "and on top of that, he would give me spending money." Roberds also says Allen wired her money to a Western Union service in Everett, a city north of Seattle. Around that time, she turned 16, the age of consent.
Roberds claims she can back up her allegations against Allen; two girls each joined in paid sex with her and Allen on separate occasions. One of the women hung up the phone on a reporter when asked about Allen. The other claimed she participated in sex with Allen and Roberds in 2001 at his home near downtown Anchorage, but asked that her name not be published.
In 2001, Roberds and Allen abruptly stopped seeing one another. "One of the times he picked me up from the Hilton ... and he asked me, ""Is this all about the money, or do we have a relationship going on?'" Roberds said.
Allen, a successful, competitive and fearless businessman in America's oil province, was dumbstruck when Roberds rejected his feelings for her, she said.
"After I told him, ""It's all about the money,' he got pretty upset," Roberds said. "I think that's how things went sour."
Contact Jill Burke at jill(at)alaskadispatch.com.