Judge denies trial move for Weyhrauch

Anchorage better suited to corruption case, court rules

Posted: Monday, August 06, 2007

ANCHORAGE - The corruption trial for former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, will remain in Anchorage, a federal judge has ruled.

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The request by Weyhrauch to move his corruption trial from Anchorage to Juneau was denied in a written ruling by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John Sedwick.

Anchorage has a larger jury pool and a larger courthouse that is more equipped to accommodate a change of courtroom in the event of a technology failure, Sedwick wrote in the ruling.

Sedwick noted that two key witnesses in the trial both live in Anchorage. They are former VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen and former VECO Vice President Rick Smith.

The decision holds for former Alaska House Speaker Pete Kott, Weyhrauch's co-defendant, and his trial will also be held in Anchorage.

Weyhrauch had said he wanted his trial moved to Juneau to avoid delays and save money. Weyhrauch and Kott, a Republican who represented Eagle River from 1993 until this year, live in Juneau.

They are accused of selling their votes and influence to oil field services contractor VECO and Allen during last year's debate on oil taxes. Their trial is set to begin in Anchorage on Sept. 5.

Weyhrauch, an attorney with a wife and three young children, served in the House from 2003 until his term ended this year. He didn't run in 2006.

Allen and Smith have pleaded guilty to extortion and bribery related to their dealings with legislators.

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