Friday, February 25, 2011

Judge Orders Bruce Weyhrauch's Trial Moved to Juneau


The court has granted former State Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch’s request to move his trial from Anchorage to Juneau. The trial of the ex-lawmaker is now scheduled to start on Monday morning, May 9, in Alaska’s capital city.

Weyhrauch has lived in Juneau for more than 20 years, and he represented a State House district in the Juneau suburbs for four years. Weyhrauch was elected as a Republican in 2002 and 2004, and he chose not to seek re-election in 2006.

Weyhrauch is charged with bribery, extortion, honest-services fraud, and conspiracy to commit the other crimes listed. The indictment alleges that Weyhrauch took actions as a legislator favorable to the defunct oil-services corporation VECO regarding oil-tax legislation on the understanding that VECO would in the future give him contract legal work. Weyhrauch’s case is the last still left hanging of the 12 brought by the federal government in the “POLAR PEN” probe into Alaska public corruption.

I must say I was surprised by the decision by U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick. The judge had already denied this motion back in 2007 when the case was first supposed to go to trial back in 2007. As a practical matter, it’s not so fun for the judge to travel more than 500 miles to Juneau for a week for a trial when he has the discretion to decide to leave the trial in his hometown. The defense did a good job, however, on the renewed motion to move the trial (a change of venue, in legal lingo). Continuing the recent retreat into passivity shown by the feds in POLAR PEN, the prosecution did not even respond to the motion.

I add my standard disclosure that I have known Bruce Weyhrauch for about 20 years and have spent more time with him than any of the POLAR PEN defendants. We have not spoken since before his indictment, however, and he has never discussed this case with me.

Next up: What does the defense’s 16-page change of venue motion tell us about the upcoming trial?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CORRECTED--I'm Speaking Friday About What I Write About on this Blog


I will be giving a lecture in Anchorage on Friday, February 18, at 12 noon on recent developments regarding the federal investigation into Alaska public corruption. It's being offered under the auspices of the program called OLE (Opportunities for Lifelong Education), and if you want to attend you could make arrangements by calling that organization at 907-272-9434. (Corrected to fix the telephone number--my apologies.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bill Weimar Captured in Cancun


In the category of I can't make it up, the Anchorage Daily News reports that the Mexican Navy has grabbed Bill Weimar on his 60-foot yacht and sent him back to the United States. The former halfway house king from Alaska was a fugitive from a Florida warrant for child sexual battery. Rich Mauer's article states that U.S. government authorities had tracked Weimar to Havana (!) before the convicted felon headed to the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Mexican officials arrested him in Cancun on his cabin cruiser, where he was hosting his girlfriend and her brother. Weimar had moved to Florida after serving a sentence for two crimes uncovered in the federal investigation into public corruption in Alaska, where Weimar had become a multimillionaire in the private corrections industry.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Former Don Young Aide Frasier Verrusio Found Guilty in Public Corruption Case


The Anchorage Daily News has Web-published an Associated Press story that a jury has returned guilty verdicts against Frasier Verrusio, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Don Young, R.-Alaska. The case centered on Verrusio's lobbyist-financed junket to a 2003 World Series game in New York City that included a stop at a strip joint. According to the AP, the jury has found Verrusio guilty of conspiracy, accepting an illegal gratuity, and making a false statement for failing to report the trip on his Congressional financial disclosure form. More to come.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tom Anderson Released from Prison into Halfway House


Tom Anderson, a former legislator whose involvement in a "Love Caucus" indirectly contributed to the length of his imprisonment, has been released from a federal prison to a halfway house in the Seattle area, reports the Anchorage Daily News. Anderson had been serving a five-year sentence after a jury convicted him in 2007 of conspiracy, bribery, extortion, and money-laundering. The convictions were for his role in a scheme to funnel him money ostensibly for articles he was to write, but the money was really to be compensation for his legislative assistance to a private prisons company. When the FBI confronted Anderson with evidence of his crimes, he agreed to become a cooperating witness for the feds and wired up on others as part of their investigation into Alaska public corruption. Anderson pulled out of that arrangement, however, apparently on the advice of his then-girlfriend (and future wife), fellow legislator Lesil McGuire. Anderson's sentence was probably more severe because of his withdrawal from his cooperation. McGuire is still a state legislator (although she is now in the State Senate) and she filed for divorce last year while Anderson was in prison.

Anderson is scheduled to be released from custody in July, reports the Daily News, but he could move from the halfway house to home confinement sooner than that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sordid New Details Alleged Against Bill Weimar in Florida Child Abuse Case


Richard Mauer of the Anchorage Daily News has additional ugly details that are alleged--and I emphasize alleged--in a child sexual abuse case against former Alaska corrections kingpin Bill Weimar. Charging documents accusing Weimar of child sexual battery in Florida allege that he committed the crime at a time that Mauer notes that Weimar was under probation supervision for felony convictions in 2008 arising out of the federal investigation into Alaska public corruption. The documents also allege that Weimar molested a six-year-old girl while caring for her during her mother's trip to the airport.

Weimar is still at large.