Monday, October 12, 2009

Prosecutors Continue to Get Cooperation from a Former Top Congressional Aide to Don Young


I’m late to this party because of obligations in preparing for my class (never let anybody tell you that teaching is easy). So mostly I’m just going to point you towards Richard Mauer’s story in Saturday’s print edition of the Anchorage Daily News, available at on the Internet.

Mauer details how federal prosecutors have obtained another delay in the sentencing of Mark Zachares, a former top committee aide to U.S. Rep. Don Young (R.-Alaska). This is the eighth delay of the sentencing in the two and a half years since Zachares pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy.

Zachares served as special counsel to Young when Alaska’s only Member of the U.S. House was Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. The former staff member and his lawyer now apparently spend a lot of time with employees of the Department of Justice, as a court filing says that Zachares is cooperating in “several ongoing investigations.”

Zachares fell into trouble due to his association with the notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now in prison. Mauer reports that another former top committee aide to Young—Fraser Verrusio, the Transportation Committee’s ex-Policy Director—is currently under indictment for allegedly providing assistance to Abramoff’s team while accepting a package of gratuities that included a trip to the World Series.

If he discussed these matters with the public or press—which he so far has not—Rep. Young would probably say that many dozens of people have worked under him in his 36-year Congressional career and that the overwhelming majority have been charged with no crimes. He would probably add that a number of people who served on Capitol Hill outside of his supervision have been convicted because of their illegal ties to Team Abramoff.

Nevertheless, the prosecutions of Zachares and Verrusio may help explain why Young has spent more than $1 million in legal defense fees since 2007. The Alaska Congressman may perceive that his areas of exposure go beyond golf tournaments in Alaska organized by VECO executives.

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