Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tapping into the Vein of Alaskans' Conflicted Views of "POLAR PEN": "Alaska Edition" Version


A wrap-up of the re-sentencings of former Alaska legislators Pete Kott and Vic Kohring contains one of the purest distillations of the ambivalent feelings on the Last Frontier about the federal investigation into Alaska public corruption.   In kicking off the discussion last Friday on the public radio and TV program "Alaska Edition," Eric Adams of Alaska Dispatch noted that many Alaskans saw the federal government exposing a "deeply corrupted legislature" as well as leaving its own competence "in tatters" through the revelation of prosecutorial misconduct.  

Veteran Anchorage journalist Paul Jenkins, editor of the Anchorage Daily Planet, had a different take.   Jenkins--who once worked for ex-VECO CEO and confessed briber Bill Allen--said "There was no justice."   Jenkins downplayed the severity of the public corruption uncovered and emphasized the prosecutorial misconduct.    Jenkins also lamented that a result of the probe was the defeat of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.   

"We lost the most powerful Senator in the country.  He was worth $5 billion a year to this state," Jenkins said.   "Plus he was 'Uncle Ted.'    If you needed something badly enough, 'Uncle Ted' would get it for you.   We lost him because of this."  

Jenkins said that he thought that "Alaskans are generally sick of it" and "fed up" with the federal investigation and prosecutions.        

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Traffic Cop Awaiting Snow, Plus Some Criticism


If you haven't read the wrap-ups in the Anchorage Daily News and the Alaska Dispatch of the federal probe into Alaska public corruption pegged to last Friday's re-sentencings, you should.   

More speculative is the piece in the Alaska Dispatch partly  carved out of the new book on the scandals by the website's Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger.   My own view is that the article overplays the role of the "POLAR PEN" investigation in the political rise of Sarah Palin and goes too far in suggesting that the corruption investigation killed off the prospects for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska, but your mileage may vary.   

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Editorials on Kott and Kohring's Guilty Pleas


While I continue to sharpen my thinking on POLAR PEN's significance, here are two editorial reactions to the guilty pleas and re-sentencings last Friday that marked the official end of the federal probe into Alaska public corruption.   The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner is relieved that former legislators Pete Kott and Vic Kohring had gained enough good judgment to throw in the towel and end their cases without more trials, while the Anchorage Daily News regrets that the discovery failures of federal prosecutors led to those two ex-lawmakers getting off too easily.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Los Angeles Times Has Two Good "POLAR PEN" Stories


Kim Murphy has two nice pieces today in the Los Angeles Times on the federal probe into Alaska public corruption.    One sketches the overall story of "POLAR PEN" with a focus on the prosecutorial mistakes and/or misconduct that blunted the investigation's impact.   Murphy quotes an unnamed attorney talking about the delays in wrapping up the seemingly unending probes of the probers:   "Are they waiting for another prosecutor to commit suicide?"

The other story by Murphy looks at the case of Bruce Weyhrauch, a former Alaska legislator who spent almost five years charged with multiple felonies in the corruption probe.   The article has Weyhrauch's lawyer Doug Pope digging through the statute books to find the obscure misdemeanor that his client ultimately pleaded guilty to at the end of the case.   Weyhrauch is also writing a book entitled "It Could Happen to You."

You should read each of these, and maybe we will get more from Murphy on these topics.

Here's the Article from KTVA/Channel 11 Complete with Video


The link I put in for the interview I did on the meaning of "POLAR PEN" apparently broke down overnight, so here is the link to the article with the bonus of actually having the video.

Thanks to Steve Aufrecht for pointing out the broken link to me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Still Working on What It Means, But Here's a Taste of What I Said on TV


I'm still working on my post on what "POLAR PEN" means, but here's a link to Bill McAllister's story that includes some material from his interview of me on this subject for Channel 11/KTVA.    (Note this is an article, as the actual video does not appear to be posted on the KTVA website.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pete Kott and Vic Kohring Trade Away Their Citizenship Rights to Guarantee They Won't Return to Prison While Karen Loeffler Declares a Victorious End to "POLAR PEN"


On a chilly October morning, two men who had admittedly  sold their public offices for cash traded away their rights as citizens to buy a guarantee that they would not return to prison.

The guilty pleas of Pete Kott and Vic Kohring triggered a muted victory dance by the people who had pursued them. U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler proclaimed at a post-sentencing press conference that the federal investigation into Alaska public corruption had been a "huge thing" and was now over.

In back-to-back hearings, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline accepted the plea agreements the two former Alaska lawmakers made with prosecutors.   Kott pleaded to bribery, and Kohring pleaded to conspiracy to commit bribery.   The bribery occurred in connection with the efforts of VECO CEO Bill Allen and VECO VP Rick Smith in 2006 to get the Alaska Legislature to set tax rates on oil production at levels desired by major oil producers, who were big customers of that Alaska-based multinational oil-services company.

The Apologetic Former Drunk and the Surprisingly Quiet Lightweight

These two defendants were each elected seven times and had tenures as legislators from Southcentral Alaska districts that almost completely overlapped, and both engaged in public corruption.    But their different postures in court reflected their different stations in life.   

Former Speaker of the Alaska House Kott went first, just as he rose far higher than his fellow Republican Kohring had in the legislature.   Kott apologized for his deeds and comments, at least those shown on the "Animal House"-style FBI surveillance videos taken in a VECO-rented hotel suite that were shown at his trial in 2007.   That trial produced convictions overturned on grounds of prosecutorial failures discovered in the meltdown of the Ted Stevens prosecution.    

"In my heart, I thought that my actions in the Legislature were for the best interests of the State of Alaska," Kott told the court.   "I understand that my actions and words off the floor of the Legislature were perhaps wrong."

Judge Beistline agreed with the "wrong" part, telling Kott that the former Air Force officer had "demonstrated a significant character flaw."   After 14 years in the legislature, the judge said, Kott seemed to become tired and in need of financial help, so "you sold your soul."

Kott got the sentence he bargained for:   no additional time in prison beyond what he has already served on convictions that were overturned, three additional years of supervised release, a $10,000 fine--and no re-trial with the associated cost, hassle, and risk of going back behind bars.   

Kohring's sentencing had a different feel presaged by him shaking my hand as he walked into the courtroom and thanking me for being "supportive" on this blog.   His comment reminded me of a conversation I had with my wife this morning.  I told her that while Kott's lawyer could say in his sentencing memorandum that Kott recognizes that he had an alcohol problem but no longer suffers from it, it was unlikely that Kohring's attorney would say that his client recognized that he had formerly been delusional.

But I was wrong.   In a sentencing memorandum whose contents were only disclosed after the proceeding, Kohring's lawyer said that his client had acknowledged to the federal government before his 2007 trial that Bill Allen had given him $1,000 in cash at a restaurant during the 2006 session.   Kohring had previously maintained that he believed that the cash "was intended as a gift."  

In the sentencing memorandum submitted this week, Kohring's new lawyer said that "What is different now is that Mr. Kohring has reflected on his actions and Bill Allen's motivations when this money was provided, and now acknowledges that receiving $1,000 came with expectations from Bill Allen that he would get something in return from Vic Kohring."

In another unusual move, Kohring's lawyer contended that his client's cluelessness justified a less severe sentence than other public corruption defendants received.  Michael Filipovic, Kohring's Seattle-based public defender, said that the tall man sporting long locks was "not a person who had much persuasive ability with others in the House" and "not the person who could move other people's opinions."   In a reversal from what politicians' campaign brochures usually boast, Kohring's lawyer argued that it was his client's own low "horsepower" with his legislative colleagues that meant that he was less dangerous than other office-holding defendants.   

The final surreal moment at Kohring's sentencing came when he got his chance to speak directly to the court.   His lawyer told his client in one of the loudest stage whispers ever that he had the right to say nothing, and--to the surprise of many in the courtroom--Kohring took that advice.

So there Kohring sat.   In addition to the "shame, embarrassment and public ridicule" that other defendants in the "POLAR PEN" probe have suffered, Kohring has particularly bad personal problems.    He has poor health that leads him to take medication to fight both pain and anxiety, and he is broke with only a lot of debts and only limited part-time work.   Kohring lives with his elderly parents in their mobile home in Wasilla, and serves as their primary caregiver.   

Perhaps relieved that Kohring did not try to orally reclaim the innocence that his signed plea agreement had given away, Judge Beistline gave Kohring a break.   Kohring got the time served he had bargained for, and--in an area in which the parties had not negotiated a specific agreement--the judge only imposed 18 additional months of supervised release.    There is no fine for Kohring, and no curfew like Kott got for the first year of his supervised release.      

Judge Beistline seemed to lecture Kohring less, and he reserved much of his remarks in both cases for denunciations of two men who were not in the courtroom.   The judge called Allen and Smith "two real disreputable characters" whose behavior in handing out baseball caps advertised their moral flaws.   (Testimony at Kott's trial showed that his girlfriend had made up caps that read "CBC"--for "Corrupt Bastards Club"--that Smith had flung around a bar.)    The judge called Allen and Smith "rich, greedy, amoral" (although Smith would surely disagree about the term "rich" being applied to him as well as the multimillionaire Allen).

The corruption scandals uncovered in the "POLAR PEN" probe were a "truly dark moment in the state's history," the judge said.   Echoing President Gerald Ford's comment when he pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon for his role in the Watergate scandals of the 1970s, Judge Beistline told Kott that he was accepting the plea agreement because "I recognize the need to put this long state nightmare to an end."

This Thing's Over and It Gave Us Better Government

That was a common theme from the prosecution and the judge throughout the day:   The federal investigation had improved Alaska government, and it was finished.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said during the Kohring sentencing that he was proud to live in a state and a country where public corruption was not tolerated, and he stated that "Juneau is not the same place it was five years ago." 

What had happened to Kohring and Kott would "send shudders to anybody thinking about crossing the line," the judge told Kohring.   

"The message has been sent," U.S. Attorney Loeffler said at the post-hearings press conference.    "We're in a different era, I hope."   

Loeffler worked hard in front of the reporters to embrace the positive while tap dancing away from the negative.   Pointing to the 10 people convicted of crimes--including six people who had been sitting lawmakers, representing 10 percent of the legislature--the chief federal prosecutor in Alaska said that the record showed that "We're not a Third World country."   She said that the investigations and prosecution had produced a state legislature that was "more honest and open."

Although Loeffler left open the possibility that some other unit of the Department of Justice would do something else, she announced that the job was over for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Alaska.   "We're done."  

Loeffler repeatedly refused to answer questions about some less attractive aspects of the federal probe into Alaska public corruption.   She made it clear that the decisions about Ben Stevens--including the one not to prosecute him--were not made by her office, but by other elements within the Department of Justice.    Any federal charges of Bill Allen for alleged sexual abuse of minors would come from the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, not her office.   All questions about investigations of prosecutors and investigators who formerly handled "POLAR PEN" cases had to be directed to people in Washington, D.C., where those investigations were being run.  

Loeffler and the chief FBI agent in Anchorage, Mary Rook, did confirm the locations of some personnel who formerly worked on those cases.    The former lead FBI agent on POLAR PEN, Mary Beth Kepner, attended Kott's sentencing and still works in the Anchorage FBI office.    Chad Joy, who formerly served as co-lead agent and became a whistle-blower with grievances particularly aimed at Kepner, is no longer with the FBI.   Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini still works in the Anchorage office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney James Goeke works for the Department of Justice outside of Alaska.

(This blog post was improved by sitting next to Mark Regan during some of the proceedings.    The precise wording of the quotation from Pete Kott comes from the report of Kim Murphy in the Los Angeles Times.)

Tomorrow:   What Did "POLAR PEN" Mean?

Television Announcement


While I am working away on my typically oversized post about today's sentencings and the "We're done" press conference from the U.S. Attorney, you can watch me on TV tonight on Channel 11, KTVA in Anchorage, as Bill McAllister interviews me about the significance of today's events and the entire federal investigation into Alaska public corruption.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lawyer for Lead Ted Stevens Trial Prosecutor Brenda Morris Announces that Justice Department Has Cleared Her, Too


A Wall Street Journal blog has reported that the lawyer for Brenda Morris, lead prosecutor at the Ted Stevens trial, has announced that the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) "found absolutely no misconduct" by his client.    OPR is the internal ethics watchdog for the Justice Department, and it conducted a probe of prosecutors involved with the trial after the case fell apart in early 2009 following jury verdicts of guilty against the long-time U.S. Senator.  

Vic Kohring and Pete Kott Admit Numerous Specific Criminal Acts in Return for No More Time in Prison


Former State Representatives Vic Kohring (R.-Wasilla) and Pete Kott (R.-Eagle River) admitted to various specific acts constituting crimes of corruption in their plea agreements that prevent them from being sent back to prison when they are re-sentenced Friday.

Kohring admitted taking $1,000 from VECO CEO Bill Allen at a restaurant in February of 2006.   "I took this money intending to be rewarded and knowing and understanding why Bill Allen was giving it to me," reads the plea agreement signed by Kohring personally.   "By accepting this money with that knowledge and intent, I knowingly became a part of the conspiracy to bribe elected officials."  

Kohring also admits what has been shown on tape about his famous meeting in the Baranof Hotel's Suite 604 on March 30, 2006, which is that he solicited Allen for help with the lawmaker's $17,000 credit card debt and then took cash from the oil-services tycoon.

For his part, Kott personally signed a plea agreement stating that he "corruptly solicited and agreed to accept over $7,900 in monetary payments and a promise of future employment from Bill Allen, Rick Smith and VECO Corporation."   Specifically, Kott admits that he accepted $7,993 on a false flooring invoice; solicited the promise of a future job from Bill Allen; received the benefit of a poll paid by VECO worth $2,700; and took $1,000 in cash from Allen.

As predicted here, the deals explicitly provide for no more prison time for either defendant.   Kott's deal is for three more years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine, while Kohring gets a term of supervision to be set by the judge and no fine (due to his poverty).

As Anchorage lawyer Mark Regan has suggested, the plea agreements leave the potentially tough sentencing remarks from U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline as about the only source of fireworks at the proceedings Friday morning.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lurching Toward the Wrap-Up: Vic Kohring Cops a Plea, Edward Sullivan Gets Restored, and William Welch and Brenda Morris Fight Contempt Finding

Providence, R.I.--

It's a busy week in the federal investigation into Alaska public corruption, and on my own getaway day I offer brief observations on three major developments.

Vic Kohring's plea bargain deprives us of what promised to be an entertaining (if sad) re-trial.   Confronted with damning evidence on tape, the former legislator's lawyers would probably have been pushed toward what one expert in public corruption cases has called the "I'm an idiot defense."   The theme likely would have been that Vic Kohring's head was as empty as his heart was full of love, a combination that made him incapable of committing the crimes he was charged with.    Kohring's attorney at the original trial compared him to Andy Griffith's character in the 1960s television show of the same name; his new set of lawyers at the re-trial would more been likely to paint him as similar to the cartoon world's Baby Huey or Gilligan from the Gilligan's Island program.

This defense's appeal is shown in Kohring's hometown newspaper.   Frontiersman editorials have been tough on the former lawmaker and his "sordid" criminal problems, and today's offering followed that pattern by calling on him to apologize to the public for taking a bribe.  

But even while harshly criticizing his conduct, the editorial repeated what I have frequently heard about this defendant:   Many people who know Kohring suggest that he had a hard time understanding that he was violating the law, or at the very least think he was far from evil.   "We don't think Kohring was a corrupt, power-mad lawmaker eager to sell his influence to the highest bidder," the Wasilla-based newpaper editorialized.   "We think he was a naive man caught up in sinister business doings beyond his ken."

I continue to believe that Vic Kohring, like his fellow former Alaska legislator Pete Kott, will not be sentenced to any more prison time at the back-to-back hearings set for Friday morning in Anchorage federal court.   As blogger Philip Munger suggests, it is possible that each of those defendants will get some time in a halfway house--if that occurred, it strikes me that the location would likely be in Alaska.

A lawyer who tried hard to put Kohring and other "POLAR PEN" defendants in prison is breathing a lot easier today.    NPR's Carrie Johnson reports today that government attorney Edward Sullivan has returned to the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section and its caseload of prosecuting public corruption cases.   NPR quotes Sullivan's lawyer claim that his client has been "exonerated" by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), the agency's internal watchdog.   OPR launched an investigation into several government attorneys in the wake of the collapse of the botched Ted Stevens prosecution.    Sullivan was sent to a relatively obscure post at the DoJ's Office of International Affairs during that investigation, a move that looked like exile to a backwater to some observers.   Sullivan's return to the Public Integrity Section to work on some high-profile cases allowed his lawyer to label him as "vindicated" and the Wall Street Journal to describe him as "back in the saddle." 

Two of the other prosecutors under the gun in that investigation--former Public Integrity chief William Welch and Brenda Morris, former principal deputy chief of the section--are continuing to push for lifting of a contempt finding against them entered during the implosion of the Ted Stevens case.   Much of the argument at a court hearing yesterday centered on the legal question of whether the contempt was criminal or civil.   Attention also turned, however, to the investigations of the investigators, the last remaining threads in the long-running federal probe into Alaska public corruption:   the investigations of the investigators.   In addition to the ethics probe run by OPR, the trial judge in the Ted Stevens case  appointed Washington, D.C.-based attorney Henry Schuelke to conduct a rare criminal investigation into the conduct of six prosecutors in that case, including Morris, the lead prosecutor at that trial.   It's been more than two and a half years since Schuelke's probe was announced in April of 2009. 

A judge at the oral argument yesterday asked the lawyer for Morris "You're happy to put your fate in the hands of Mr. Schuelke?"   

The response: "Yes."  

[Tweaked to correct a name.]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Vic Kohring Will Also Drop His Not Guilty Plea and Avoid Trial

Warwick, R.I.--

Former State Representative Vic Kohring's lawyer has filed a notice of intent to change his plea on the charge against him entitled "conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion under color of official right and bribery."   The change in plea to this felony charge is explicitly pursuant to a plea agreement with the prosecution.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

An Apology and A Question

Warwick, R.I.--

Let's start with an apology to the Justice Department.  I predicted last April 3 on this blog that the government would dismiss the cases against ex-State Reps. Vic Kohring (R.-Wasilla) and Pete Kott (R.-Eagle River).   Although I also predicted in a column for the Alaska Bar Rag published last June that the Justice Department would not re-try the former lawmakers--leaving open the possibility that the cases would be resolved with plea agreements--that April 3 prediction on the blog is obviously wrong as to Kott, who last week announced that he would drop his not guilty plea to a bribery charge.

And now let's have a poll.  

How do you think the Vic Kohring case will be resolved?

Dismissal ___

Agreement resulting in a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor ___ 

Agreement resulting in a plea of guilty to a felony producing  no additional prison time ___

Agreement resulting in a plea of guilty to a felony producing additional prison time ___

Trial ___

Get your votes in before 5 p.m. Alaska time Monday, October 17, 2011 (that would be tomorrow as I write this).    I will write my own analysis after that.    Here's a preview:  

(1)  The outcome in which Vic Kohring pleads guilty to a felony producing additional prison time seems by far the least likely.

(2) Vic Kohring's unusual--some would say "delusional"--view of the world might make it more difficult for his attorneys to talk him into a resolution that they believe to good for their client.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Notes on Improving Our Criminal Justice System

Providence, R.I.--

On the theory that people read this blog because they are interested in some combination of public affairs, Alaska matters, and what I have to say, here are my notes for a speech I gave last week to the Anchorage chapter of NALS, "the association for legal professionals."

Alternatives to Incarceration:

The Need for “Smart Justice”

Cliff Groh

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.

The percentage of Alaska’s population in custody has more than tripled in the past three decades.

If Alaska’s total population had increased in the last 30 years at the same rate as its population in custody has gone up, today there would be as many people in this state as there are in Houston, Texas.

The United States imprisons people at a rate six times higher than that of Canada.   

One in 31 adults in the U.S. is either behind bars or on supervised release.

“Either we are the most evil people on earth or we doing something very wrong.” – U.S. Senator Jim Webb

If our criminal justice system worked right, we could cut imprisonment AND cut crime.

Let’s talk about:

            --Why our system grew so overburdened and turned bad

            --The ways in which our system is too costly and ineffective

            --How our system could be better

Growth in prison populations reflects several factors:   taking some crimes more seriously, growing severity of sentences generally, increase in imprisonment of drug offenders, use of prisons as holding facilities for the mentally ill, and substantial disparities in ethnic composition of the inmates.

Putting people behind bars is expensive.   The growing costs of paying for incarceration around the country is now crowding out or will soon crowd out spending for other public programs, particularly education.

It costs$49,800.60 to keep someone in prison for a year in Alaska vs. $52,652 to put an undergraduate student at Harvard for a year of tuition, room, and board.

The criminal justice system is too often ineffective.

More than 90 percent of all people in prison are eventually released, and more than one-half of the people released from prison are back behind bars in three years.

We could reduce imprisonment AND reduce crime by relying on “Smart Justice” moves.

One expert—UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman—estimates that we could simultaneously cut incarceration in half AND cut crime in half in 10 years if we moved to a system of “smart justice.” 

A system that moved away from the current random severity towards swifter and more certain punishment would work better and be cheaper.  

Don’t be hard or soft—be smart. 

Swift and certain equals smart.

Smart justice uses insights from parenting and psychological research and technological progress.

Enforce probation and parole conditions faster and more predictably.   

--The HOPE program in Hawaii shows the way.    Sending felony probationers who failed or missed drug tests immediately to prison for 48-hour stays cut their arrest rate for new crimes by two-thirds.
--Even Texas is expanding drug treatment and other programs in lieu of building more prisons.

Give most people in the system shorter stays in less pleasant and safer custodial situations.

Use electronic monitoring as much as possible.  It costs $136.44 per day to keep someone in prison in Alaska vs. $21.25per day for electronic monitoring.

Put people in prison mostly because you’re afraid of them, not because you’re mad at them.   Candidates for long sentences are:

--The truly dangerous.

--Repetitive rule-breakers in new system (like somebody who cuts off his ankle bracelet).

--A few to make unusual examples of.

Hire more police officers and probation and parole officers as opposed to more prison guards. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Traffic Cop in the Ocean State: Kott Talks to the Alaska Dispatch About Dropping His Not Guilty Plea

Warwick, R.I.--

Jill Burke of Alaska Dispatch gets an interview with Pete Kott about the ex-legislator's decision to change his plea of not guilty to a bribery charge.    Consistent with my observation yesterday about his world-weariness, the former seven-term Republican lawmaker from Eagle River told Burke that "I'm just trying to bring finality to this whole thing.  It's been five years."    Asked whether his move to change his plea means that he is in fact guilty, the former Speaker of the Alaska House added that "Maybe it's just time to put it behind me and move forward in life regardless of what [I] think the outcome should be."  

Kott indicated that he had been in some turmoil about the decision:   "I've been like a windshield wiper on a car--back and forth."

We'll learn a lot more about the difficulties that played on Kott's mind when we see the actual plea agreement and sentence on that plea.

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."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Court Denies Pete Kott's Motion to Dismiss Alleging "Egregious Government Misconduct"


Continuing a path towards a re-trial that I have repeatedly predicted wouldn't happen, District Judge Ralph Beistline today entered in U.S. v. Kott an "Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Indictment Due to Intentional Prosecutorial Misconduct." In the order, the court describes the core of Kott's argument as an allegation that the federal government "suppressed information relevant to Bill Allen's predatory sexual conduct and subordination of perjury in order to protect Allen's reputation as a witness in a white collar trial."

The court said that evidence that the lead FBI agent allegedly had a practice of not writing down information that was not favorable to the government was useful material for cross-examination of that agent, not grounds for dismissal of the indictment. The court also said that even if the defense was accurate in its allegation that the Justice Department made "a conscious decision to 'sacrifice the child victims of [Allen's] predation and perjury'" to pursue public corruption charges against Kott, such a decision would be within the broad discretion in prosecution the law gives to the government.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pete Kott Gets the Same Remedies of Curative Instruction and Special Verdict Form that Vic Kohring Did


U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline handled the duplicity issue with Pete Kott the same way he did for Vic Kohring.