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Former Alaska lawmaker Vic Kohring plans to plead guilty in federal corruption change; hearing set Friday

Posted: October 18, 2011 - 12:01am
Former Alaska state Representative Vic Kohring answers questions for media after being sentenced in federal court on May 8, 2008 in Anchorage to 3 1/2 years in prison for corruption charges. Kohring and another former lawmaker, Pete Kott, were scheduled to be retried after their earlier convictions were thrown out for prosecutorial errors. Kohring and Kott plan to plead guilty.  Al Grillo / The Associated Press File
Al Grillo / The Associated Press File
Former Alaska state Representative Vic Kohring answers questions for media after being sentenced in federal court on May 8, 2008 in Anchorage to 3 1/2 years in prison for corruption charges. Kohring and another former lawmaker, Pete Kott, were scheduled to be retried after their earlier convictions were thrown out for prosecutorial errors. Kohring and Kott plan to plead guilty.

JUNEAU — A former Alaska lawmaker facing retrial on federal corruption charges plans to plead guilty this week, apparently ending a yearslong probe of corruption in Alaska politics.

Attorneys for Vic Kohring filed court papers Monday indicating that he plans to change his plea on count one of the indictment against him. That count is conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion under color of official right and bribery, and stems from Kohring’s dealings with officials from a now-defunct oil services company.

A change of plea hearing was scheduled for Friday in Anchorage’s U.S. District Court, with sentencing to immediately follow.

A message was left for a Kohring attorney Monday.

Earlier this year, an appeals court threw out the convictions of Kohring and another former lawmaker caught up in the probe, Pete Kott, citing prosecutorial errors. The court ordered new trials. Kohring’s trial was set to start Oct. 31; Kott’s would be later this year.

Kott last week signaled his intent to plead guilty in his case as well. He also is due to enter his plea Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said plea agreements have been reached with both Kott and Kohring but he declined comment on specifics, saying details would be filed “at the appropriate time.” He said all sides expect the cases to be resolved with the hearings Friday, with no plans to press forward with trials.

Kohring was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy to commit extortion, attempted extortion and bribery, and sentenced to 31/2 years in prison. He was released in 2009 while his case was reviewed and has been free on bond, living in Alaska.

Prosecutors won several convictions stemming from a wide-ranging 2006 corruption probe but questions surrounded the government’s handling of cases after the conviction of then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008. Stevens was convicted of lying on financial disclosure forms about gifts, an outcome that ended his political career. But a judge later threw out the case, finding prosecutors had withheld evidence at trial.

An appeals court made similar findings in the Kott and Kohring cases.

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