PALMER — Vic Kohring, a longtime Mat-Su legislator who tried to return to public office even after a 2007 conviction on federal corruption charges, was killed Tuesday in a head-on collision with a semi on the Glenn Highway near Palmer.
Kohring was 64 and lived in Wasilla.
He was driving a Toyota minivan just north of Palmer around 5 p.m. Tuesday when he crossed the center line for unknown reasons and collided with the truck, Alaska State Troopers said.
Troopers and medical personnel responded but Kohring was declared dead at the scene, troopers said.
Kohring, who served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1995 to his resignation in 2007, campaigned as a conservative and chaired a powerful oil and gas committee.
Kohring was one of six legislators charged and convicted in the corruption scandal that surfaced with FBI raids on his office and others in 2006. A jury convicted him in November 2007 of extortion, bribery and conspiracy, and a federal judge sentenced him to 3 1/2 years in prison.
He appealed and got a new trial when the Justice Department admitted withholding information from Kohring’s defense -- similar misconduct that led to dismissal of charges against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens after a jury found him guilty of disclosure violations.
Instead of going through a new trial on three felonies, Kohring pleaded guilty in 2011 to a single federal felony for accepting bribes and was sentenced to the time he had served in federal prison: one year, plus 18 months probation.
He admitted taking $1,000 cash at a Juneau restaurant from Veco chairman Bill Allen, who was trying to lower oil production taxes in the 2006 Legislature, and to asking Allen to pay a $17,000 credit card debt.
In 2013, after his probation ended and he immediately registered to vote again, Kohring filed to run for a three-year term on the Wasilla City Council but was defeated by incumbent Brandon Wall.
Kohring on a website he created said he “was the target of unscrupulous prosecutors from the so-called U.S. ‘Justice’ Department who were determined to convict a conservative lawmaker and long time chairman of the Alaska Legislature’s Oil & Gas Committee, regardless of the facts or evidence.”
Kohring was proud of his reputation as a small-government, low-tax conservative who Mat-Su voters elected seven times to the Alaska House. He wrote a series of columns about his case and his political views.
The troopers’ Bureau of Highway Patrol is investigating the collision. Kohring’s body will be autopsied by the State Medical Examiner’s Office.