Charges against Clark formally dropped

Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2010

A federal judge Wednesday dismissed the criminal charge against Jim Clark, following the U.S. Supreme Court's summer decision that the charge to which he pled guilty was no longer valid.

Clark had been chief of staff to former Gov. Frank Murkowski, and admitted to helping VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen funnel illegal campaign contributions to industry ally Murkowski. Clark, a long-time Juneau attorney, was at that time considered one of the most powerful public officials in the state.

Federal public integrity prosecutors charged Clark with depriving the public of his "honest services" with those actions, but the nation's highest court said that was not an appropriate use of that statute.

With the dismissal of the charge, Clark's sentencing, which had been scheduled for Friday, was also canceled.

The order was signed Wednesday by Chief Judge Ralph Beistline on behalf of Judge John Sedwick, who heard Clark's original guilty plea in 2008.

Also on Wednesday, the Alaska Bar Association, which had on an interim basis suspended Clark's license to practice law, was notified of the dismissal.

Bar Counsel Steve Van Goor said he earlier provided incorrect information that the Alaska Supreme Court would automatically consider reinstating Clark's license following the dismissal. Actually, Clark must petition to be re-instated, Van Goor said.

"I understand from his counsel, Bruce Gagnon, that a petition will be filed with the Supreme Court tomorrow," Van Goor said Wednesday.

Van Goor called the Clark case unusual and said he expected the petition to be acted on quickly.

"This is the first case I can recall where a lawyer's criminal conviction has been reversed or set aside after an interim suspension has been imposed," Van Goor said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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