Kott asks judge to vacate his guilty verdict

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A former Alaska lawmaker convicted on three federal corruption charges has asked a judge to throw out the verdict or allow a new trial.

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The attorney for Pete Kott argues that the witness at the heart of the case, former VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen, was Kott's personal friend, and anything he received from Allen should be viewed simply as a gift.

Kott was found guilty last month of accepting nearly $9,000, a political poll and the promise of a job from VECO, an oil field services company. He was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and extortion but acquitted of wire fraud.

Allen and a company vice president, Rick Smith, have pleaded guilty to bribing Kott and other lawmakers. VECO stood to make millions in contracts if the Legislature approved a revised crude oil tax that encouraged investment. The Legislature passed the tax.

Defense lawyer Jim Wendt has argued in court papers that there was no evidence of a connection between the tax and anything that Kott received.

"There was no nexus to the PPT (Petroleum Profits Tax) legislation established, and as a result any alleged benefits that the defendant received could have been construed as simply gifts from a benefactor that Pete Kott has known for years," Wendt wrote in a 12-page memo to the court.

Wendt raised some of the same points before U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick during the trial, especially as it relates to how the jury was instructed to consider the evidence. The judge rejected the arguments at the time.

Prosecutors will file a response soon, said Bryan Sierra, U.S. Justice Department spokesman.

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