Feds turn over trial materials to ex-lawmakers

Same team handled Ted Stevens case, convictions in question

Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Federal prosecutors said they have complied with a court order handing over trial evidence to two former Alaska lawmakers convicted on corruption charges.

Former Reps. Pete Kott and Vic Kohring have been released from federal prison while the court reviews whether prosecutorial misconduct played a role in their trials and convictions.

The convictions came into question because the same team of prosecutors handled the case against former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, whose conviction was thrown out because evidence was withheld.

Prosecutor Peter M. Koski on Tuesday informed a judge that the government has provided a broad range of evidence to both defense teams, Anchorage television station KTUU reported.

"The government's intent is to provide the defendant with copies of and/or access to a wide range of pre- and post-trial information in order to resolve any concerns that the defense and the Court may have about the trial in this case, and to allow the defendant to raise any arguments he may deem appropriate under prevailing law," Koski wrote.

Kott and Kohring in 2007 were convicted of accepting bribes to push legislation favorable to the oil industry. An FBI investigation focused on officials of VECO Corp., an oil field services company that did millions of dollars in contracting work for oil producers, including design, construction and maintenance jobs. Its chairman was Bill Allen.

Kott, a seven-term Republican lawmaker from Eagle River, was convicted of accepting nearly $9,000, a $2,750 political poll and the promise of a job from Allen. The formal charges were conspiracy to solicit financial benefits, extortion and bribery.

Kohring, a seven-term Republican from Wasilla, was convicted of taking at least $2,600 in cash that Allen testified he handed over because Kohring was perpetually short of money for food and lodging.

However, the same team of federal prosecutors involved in the convictions of Kott and Kohring handled Stevens' case. He was convicted of failing to report more than a quarter-million dollars in gifts from Allen, mostly in the form of an extensive home remodeling.

That conviction was thrown out, and the case dropped, after the presiding judge determined that prosecutors had withheld key information that could have helped in Stevens' defense.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this year ordered a review of the Alaska cases and asked that Kott and Kohring be released until the investigation was completed.

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