Prosecutors urge five-year sentence for Vic Kohring

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Federal prosecutors are recommending former state Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, be sentenced to five years in federal prison, after his recent conviction on corruption charges.

Kohring's sentencing, which had been scheduled for Monday, was delayed while his request for a new judge is considered.

Kohring accused U.S. District Judge John Sedwick, who presided over his trial, of having a conflict of interest.

The sentence recommendation was made by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section in a court filing today.

Federal sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of 4.25 to 5.25 years for a crime such as Kohring's. Prosecutors said Kohring's actions have "struck a severe blow to the public's faith in the Alaska Legislature and their elected leaders."

They also asked for a $24,244 fine, an amount they said represented the low end of estimates of the corrupt benefits received by Kohring.

During the period Kohring took the bribes for which he was convicted, he was struggling with $17,000 in unpaid credit card bills, and the Alaska Legislature was adopting a new Petroleum Profits Tax in which VECO Corp. had a keen interest.

Kohring's November conviction on bribery and extortion charges came after VECO CEO Bill Allen and Vice President Rick Smith testified they had given money to Kohring for help in passing the oil tax bill and other political favors.

"Consistent with his earlier success in tapping Allen for money, rather than just flat out ask for the $17,000 payment, Kohring instead asked for a meeting with Allen and Smith during the middle of the 2006 legislative session, when the PPT legislation was approaching critical mass," prosecutors said.

Kohring has filed a motion asking for a new trial, and a new judge, citing a conflict of interest on the part of U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick.

Kohring said that as a legislator, he was responsible for budget cuts that eliminated the job of Deborah Sedwick, wife of Judge Sedwick, who was a state employee in the 1990s.

"I believe there is an obvious conflict of interest in this case as Ms. Sedwick never did like me and likely discussed such things with her husband," Kohring said in an affidavit accompanying the motion.

Sedwick signed an order Monday delaying sentencing until Judge Russel Holland could make a determination in his conflict of interest case.

Former House Speaker Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, was sentenced to five years in prison in December.

Former Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, was sentenced to five years in prison in July.

Anderson reported to prison in Oregon in December; Kott began his term at he same prison in January.

A fourth legislator under indictment, former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, is awaiting a court ruling on what charges he'll face.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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