Weyhrauch indicted by feds on bribery, extortion charges
By PAT FORGEY
A federal grand jury has indicted former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau and another former lawmaker in connection with allegedly taking bribes from oil companies trying to win the state's natural gas pipeline.
FBI agents last year searched the offices of Weyhrauch, former Rep. Pete Kott of Eagle River and several other lawmakers. Weyhrauch did not run for re-election, and has declined public comment on the issue.
Both Weyhrauch and Kott were charged with a total of seven charges, including conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery.
The federal indictment does not name the company allegedly paying the bribes. It alludes to an oil field services company that appears to fit the description of Veco Corp., whose offices were also searched in the federal investigation.
During debate on the gas line last year, witnesses told the Empire they saw Veco executives, including CEO Bill Allen, passing notes to legislators on the House floor.
Then-House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, rose to denounce interference in the legislative process.
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
In court: Former Juneau Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, is led in handcuffs into a federal courtroom by FBI agents Friday in Juneau. Weyhrauch was indicted by a grand jury in connection with allegedly taking bribes from oil companies.
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Indicted: Former state Rep. Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, is led out of a federal courtroom by FBI agents Friday in Juneau. Kott was indicted by a grand jury on bribery and extortion charges.
Weyhrauch denied that what they'd just witnessed had taken place, said Frank Ameduri, now the press secretary for the House Democrats.
State Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, said she was very surprised by Weyhrauch's indictment, even after last year's FBI raids.
"He's held in great respect, admiration, and even love and affection," she said.
After a recent boating mishap, legislators who feared the missing Weyhrauch might be dead offered prayers for their former colleague. Legislators were on the floor of the House when word came that a search team had found Weyhrauch alive, and cheers broke out.
Doll holds the seat Weyhrauch once held and said the people of Juneau will support him as much as possible.
"I don't think the community is going to jump to any conclusions," she said.
"We're going to wait and see what comes out of this, "she said. "In the meantime I think he can expect to have community support."
Doll was elected to the open seat after Weyhrauch chose in June not to run for re-election after serving two terms representing Juneau's Mendenhall Valley. The FBI raid on his office came in August.
Pat Forgey can be reached at email@example.com.
Weyhrauch Indictment PDF format
Last update: 3:13 p.m., 4 May, 2007