Monday, March 14, 2011

Feds Blink and Give Bruce Weyhrauch a Misdemeanor in Plea Deal, Anchorage Daily News Reports


Richard Mauer of the Anchorage Daily News has the scoop: The federal government has agreed to drop four felony counts--including bribery, extortion, and conspiracy--against ex-State Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch (R.-Juneau) in return for the former lawmaker pleading guilty in state court to dealing with VECO executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith when Weyhrauch should have known they were unregistered lobbyists.

I'll have more when this agreement when it appears on the official federal court Website (apparently later today), but there are some important points now:

1. This is a major climb-down by the Department of Justice. Weyhrauch faces a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $1,000 fine under the misdemeanor conviction, and he will almost certainly avoid jailtime and keep his license to practice law.

2. The feds' retreat appears to be close to total in the POLAR PEN probe into Alaska public corruption. Mauer notes that the document was signed and filed in federal court Friday, the same day that a federal appeals court threw out the convictions of former State Rep. Vic Kohring (R.-Wasilla) and ordered a new trial.

3. By dropping the felony case against Weyhrauch and agreeing to give him a misdemeanor, the Department of Justice is closing the door on more discovery into ugly matters likely to be embarrassing to the federal government. As of this moment, the last document filed on the federal courts' website in this case is a court order directing the prosecution to respond to a broad defense request for more information, including copies of any law enforcement reports of Bill Allen invoking his Fifth Amendment rights not to answer questions about Allen's involvement in "sex with underage women or sex trafficking."

4. In response to Mauer's question regarding whether the State of Alaska will now investigate any of the many other legislators who were actively lobbied by unregistered lobbyists Bill Allen and Rick Smith on oil tax legislation in 2006, all signs point to "No."

(Disclosure: I have had numerous personal and professional contacts with Bruce Weyhrauch between 1981 and 2005, but he and I have never discussed his case or spoken since his indictment in 2007.)

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