Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guest Post on Date of Bill Allen's Sentencing: Mark Regan Tells Us that We're Still on for Next Wednesday


I'm buried in teaching and book-writing, so I am pleased to be able to present what I hope is the first of a series of guest posts from Mark Regan, an attorney from Fairbanks whose name will be familiar to long-time readers of this blog. Mark grew up in Alaska, and interned with U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in the 1970s before going to Harvard Law School. In 2003, Mark was the first recipient of the Alaska Bar Association's first Jay Rabinowitz Award for Public Service.

Mark's posts will appear in Verdana font while mine will continue to be in Georgia font. Mark's first post is on an order issued by U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick.

From Mark Regan:

“It is time to turn Allen’s page in this lamentable chapter in Alaska’s history.” In an order issued late Thursday morning, Judge Sedwick has denied Bill Allen’s request to continue the sentencing, which will go as scheduled next Wednesday for both Allen and his co-defendant Rick Smith. Judge Sedwick suggested that future prosecutions in the Alaska political corruption cases face “obstacles” and for him to keep Allen out of jail to encourage Allen to cooperate in those future prosecutions would require “sheer speculation.”

One of the reasons Bill Allen had asked for a continuance was that he might be asked to cooperate in corruption trials that take place more than a year from now. Under the federal Criminal Rules, it’s hard to reduce someone’s sentence based on that person’s cooperation unless the prosecution’s request to reduce the person’s sentence is filed within a year of sentencing. As far as the need to keep Allen cooperating so he can testify against defendants whose cases have not yet gone to trial, Judge Sedwick expressed skepticism:

“[G]iven the passage of time and the obstacles created by the questionable conduct of the lawyers and investigators who previously represented the interests of the United States, the only person whose future prosecution is anything more than sheer speculation is former legislator Bruce Weyhrauch.”

Bruce Weyhrauch’s case, according to Judge Sedwick, is likely to go to trial within a year – if the U.S. Supreme Court allows the charges against Weyhrauch to stand – and so if Allen’s cooperation in that case needs to be rewarded, he, the judge, can consider a motion filed after Weyhrauch’s trial has concluded. Judge Sedwick’s order says that he, the judge, already understands that Allen has cooperated in testifying against Pete Kott and Vic Kohring, and that he’ll take that cooperation into account at next week’s sentencing.

Judge Sedwick also assured Allen that at sentencing he would not hold him “responsible for any improper conduct in which the prosecutors or investigators indulged in the [Ted] Stevens case.”

“In sum,” Judge Sedwick concluded, “the court sees the reasons offered by Allen in support of continuing his sentence to be reflections of wishful thinking and an unfounded concern that the cooperation he has already provided will not be considered in support of a lower sentence.”

Judge Sedwick will consider that cooperation, and also weigh such issues as whether Allen’s payments to various politicians ought to be considered “bribes” or “gratuities,” at next Wednesday’s sentencing.

--Mark Regan

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