Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, November 14, 2004

Man pleads not guilty on rape charge

JUNEAU - A man accused raping a woman before returning to jail in May pleaded not guilty Friday on a first-degree sexual assault.

Marcus Willard, 27, was indicted on the charge earlier this month, accusing him of having sex with a 36-year-old woman against her will on in a car in the Mendenhall Valley on the evening of May 20 or early hours of May 21.

He was arrested on a drunken-driving charge in the early hours of May 22. Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins has since imposed 12 months of jail time from time that was suspended from his previous convictions for first-degree burglary and third-degree sexual assault.

The new sexual assault case was also assigned to Collins' court. However, with Collins unavailable last week, Willard appeared before Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks.

Weeks tentatively scheduled Willard's trial to begin on Feb. 28.

He did not set bail for Willard, noting the defendant was serving at sentence at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Investigation complete on highway fatality

JUNEAU - Police have completed their investigation of the Sept. 28 traffic accident on Douglas Highway that left pedestrian Angela N. Bradley dead.

Capt. Tom Porter said the findings were forwarded to the Juneau District Attorney's Office Tuesday. He said Friday that he couldn't say if police are recommending that charges be filed against Peter J. Thibodeau, 44, the driver of the 2001 Dodge pickup that struck Bradley.

Sending the conclusions of the investigation is standard procedure when fatalities are involved, Porter explained. "There are no charges as this time."

The accident occurred shortly after 7 p.m. near the Douglas Bridge. Rescue personnel found that Bradley, 35, was struck while walking north in the Cordova Street crosswalk.

Bradley was pronounced dead while personnel at Bartlett Regional Hospital were preparing to send her to another hospital for treatment.

Man pleads guilty to PFD fraud

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man who invented a second name as a teenager has pleaded guilty to double-dipping into the Permanent Fund dividend pool.

H. Christopher Nelson, 43, collected two dividend checks, one under his real name and another that he made up when he was 14 years old. The name he made up was Michael Frates.

Nelson pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Anchorage on Friday.

Nelson secured a Social Security number as Frates, and other false documents. Nelson admits only to doing it in 2000 and 2001.

Assistant U.S. attorney Thomas Bradley said Nelson actually stole more than $30,000 from the Permanent Fund dividend program over many years.

According to an investigator, when Nelson was 14 years old he left California for Alaska. The teenager walked into a Social Security office with a friend of the family whom he called his foster father, and he took on the friend's surname, Frates, with the first name Michael.

In the years since, Nelson, a construction worker, said he has alternated in using the names.

Nelson faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count for using the false Social Security number.

Nelson is at the Anchorage Jail, serving time for a probation violation on a driving while intoxicated charge.

Defense interceptor phase complete

ANCHORAGE - The first phase of the new national defense system has been completed with the initial round of ballistic missile interceptors installed at Fort Greely, military officials said Friday.

The sixth 55-foot-rocket was placed inside a silo at the Interior Alaska post Thursday afternoon after days of waiting for strong winds to diminish.

"They put it in when it was ready to go in," Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, said. "There was no significance to Veterans Day, but that was a nice touch."

The system is still undergoing tests so it's not operational yet, Lehner said. Activation is expected by the end of the year, despite concerns the multibillion dollar system is flawed and inadequately tested.

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