Saturday, September 12, 2009

Judge Slams Beverly Masek for Getting Drunk and Hints that Significant Time in Prison Awaits Her for Her Bribe-Taking


When you’re facing sentencing for a felony, don’t get drunk twice when your conditions of release only allow moderate use of alcohol.

That’s not legal advice—just common sense. (Even though this blogger is an attorney, nothing at this Website should be considered legal advice: There’s only reporting, analysis, and commentary here.)

Former State Rep. Beverly Masek (R.-Willow) is facing sentencing for taking cash bribes of at least $4,000 from officials of the now defunct oil-services company VECO, including its long-time CEO Bill Allen. She got caught twice being drunk between the time she pleaded guilty and received her sentence, and U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline came down on her hard for what he called her “messing up.”

As reported by Richard Mauer in the Anchorage Daily News, the judge gave Masek a delay in her sentencing, part of what her lawyer asked for at the hearing. But the delay was only a week, and the court appearance Thursday morning was more interesting in what the judge also gave the ex-lawmaker.

Judge Beistline imposed a stricter regime during the remaining two weeks before Masek’s sentencing and sent her a clear signal that the sentencing will result in significant prison time, not the stint in a treatment facility she seeks in lieu of incarceration. (This account of what happened at the hearing is based heavily on Mauer’s article, as your blogger did not attend that court appearance.)

The judge ordered the former legislator to stop drinking entirely and to live with her parents in Anchorage until the new sentencing date of September 24. He also gave federal monitoring authorities the powers to test her for alcohol daily and put her in jail immediately if she either tested positive or refused to give a sample.

The plain-speaking judge also threw cold water on the hope expressed by Masek’s lawyer that the sentence she gets will focus on her participating in the Southcentral Foundation’s “Circle of Recovery” program for Alaska Natives.

“Don’t think you’re not going to jail,” Judge Beistline announced in court to Masek. “You’ve got to pay the price for your crime.”

Department of Justice attorneys have stated that the pre-sentence report prepared by a federal probation officer recommends a sentence of 21 months for the ex-lawmaker, and those federal prosecutors themselves have urged the court to impose a sentence of 18 to 24 months. In a move standard with prosecutors, the government lawyer speaking at the hearing said that alcohol rehabilitation/treatment should occur in prison, not on the outside. We should find out September 24 if Masek’s lawyer can come up with a more persuasive argument than has come out so far.

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