Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pete Kott Will Plead Guilty to Bribery Charge

Warwick, R.I.--

So I'm here visiting my son in college, and Pete Kott's lawyer announces that the former Speaker of the Alaska House will plead guilty to a charge of accepting a bribe from VECO executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith. All indications would be that the defense and the prosecution have made a plea agreement in which the government will dismiss the other three counts against Kott: conspiracy; extortion; and honest services wire fraud.

Given that my location thousands of miles away from Alaska, I feel even more free to speculate than usual:

1. It would appear that the former seven-term Republican State Representative from Eagle River is more concerned about the cost, hassle, and risk of a trial scheduled for Fairbanks in December than he is bothered about the prospect of becoming a felon again.

2. The logic that seems to be working here is consistent with my understanding of the defendant and what it seems likely he understands from his conversations with his attorneys. Pete Kott strikes me as a sensible realist who had become afflicted with world-weariness and an alcohol problem, and when he heard--as he probably did--that he is highly unlikely to spend more time in prison, he decided to cop a plea and cut his losses.

3. As suggested above, I think it likely that Pete Kott believes that his guilty plea will not lead to more prison time, probably because the plea agreement either specifically guarantees that result or because the prosecution has promised not to ask for it and the defense believes that under all the circumstances the judge would not impose it.

4. Note that my prediction that the government would not re-try Pete Kott and Vic Kohring now looks to be at least half-correct. Just like Lincoln seized upon the partial Union victory at Antietam to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, I will take this opportunity to offer a new motto for this blog based on the football columnist Gregg Easterbrook's repeated disclaimer: "All Predictions Wrong or Your Money Back." I'm going one better than Easterbrook: Here, it's "All Predictions Wrong or Double Your Money Back."

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