Weyhrauch wants 9th Circuit Court to overturn panel

Decision restored key evidence in former Juneau lawmaker's trial

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch is asking the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a decision which restored key evidence in his corruption trial.

A three-judge panel from the federal appeals court ruled Nov. 26 that prosecutors can tell a jury how Weyhrauch, a private attorney, failed to disclose his hope to get work from VECO Corp. after he left the Legislature, all while VECO's chief executive was seeking favorable oil tax legislation from state lawmakers.

Weyhrauch, a Juneau Republican, on Monday asked the full appeals court to overturn the panel's decision.

The panel's decision imposed an improper expansion of federal law over state law, which wouldn't have required such a disclosure, Weyhrauch's attorney says.

Weyhrauch never got a job with VECO, though his votes were aligned with VECO.

Weyhrauch and former House Speaker Pete Kott were indicted May 3, 2007, on four counts of bribery, extortion, fraud and conspiracy. Kott was convicted and is serving a federal prison term.

However, before Weyhrauch's trial started, a federal judge ruled that prosecutors couldn't use his failure to disclose job solicitations to VECO as evidence of defrauding citizens of honest services because it was required by state law.

Prosecutors appealed, getting the backing of the appeal court panel.

Another lawmaker caught up in the federal corruption investigation will likely have his trial delayed.

State Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage, faces conspiracy and bribery charges in the ongoing federal corruption investigation into Alaska politics.

Cowdery, 78, pleaded not guilty to in August. He's accused of trying to bribe a fellow state senator with $25,000 from VECO Corp.

His attorney wants the trial delayed until at least late March because of the amount of evidence he recently received from the government. Prosecutors do not oppose the delay, but the two sides couldn't agree on a new date.

Another court hearing is scheduled Dec. 16 to resolve the court date.

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