Saturday, October 24, 2009

Judge Sedwick Announces that He Thinks that the Federal Probe into Alaska Public Corruption Will Produce No New Defendants


Mark Regan has done an excellent job in a series of posts regarding the recent flurry of filings in the Bill Allen and Rick Smith cases, and I thank him again (while hoping that he’ll keep going).

I want to underscore one point that Mark touched on briefly. Bill Allen asked for a four-month delay in his sentencing based in part on the theory that he needs to stay out of prison to testify against other people to be charged in the federal investigation into public corruption investigation in Alaska. In rejecting this request, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick announced that he thinks it is highly unlikely that the federal investigation will produce any new defendants beyond those already charged.

“[G]iven the passage of time and the obstacles created by the questionable conduct of the lawyers and the 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,” Judge Sedwick wrote. He added that “Seeking a chance to cooperate in the prosecution of other potential corruption defendants is entirely speculative at this juncture.” (Emphasis added.)

The “other potential corruption defendants” most discussed are of course former State Senate President Ben Stevens (R.-Anchorage) and U.S. Rep. Don Young (R.-Alaska). One odd feature of Bill Allen's sentencing hearing is that the government will try to get Judge Sedwick to sentence Allen in part for his activities with Ben Stevens and Don Young while the government has never charged Ben Stevens and Don Young for any crimes relating to Allen (or anybody else).

Some have speculated that the feds have thrown in the towel on indicting additional people in the “POLAR PEN” probe, but don't want to admit it while they figure out who else--like Bill Allen--to blame for ending the investigation. One piece of evidence apparently cutting against this proposition is the extension of more than one year Judge Sedwick gave in August on the sentencing of Jim Clark, the former Chief of Staff to ex-Gov. Frank Murkowski. I have previously speculated on this blog that this delay in Clark’s sentencing meant that the feds wanted to milk Clark for more dirt on Ben Stevens and Frank Murkowski. If the folding up the tents theory is correct, however, the real reasons to hold off on sentencing Clark might have been to keep him out to testify against former State Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch (the reason suggested in the order) or to wait until after Allen was sentenced to establish a benchmark in sentencing Clark.

The feds generally do not announce either that (a) we aren't going to indict Mr. X or (b) this investigation is over, although they have occasionally said some version of (a) or (b) if specifically asked. The sentencing hearings for Bill Allen and Rick Smith on Wednesday morning may include more clues on the future of the federal government's “POLAR PEN” probe.

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