Alleged cover-up cuts into witness Allen's credibility

Anchorage police investigating conduct with underage girl

Posted: Monday, December 14, 2009

ANCHORAGE -Anchorage resident Lisa Moore says she traded sex with then-VECO boss Bill Allen in 1996 for an apartment, money and jewelry. He was 59; she was 19.

She also says she introduced him to a 15-year-old girl who became his sex partner.

But the next year, an ex-boyfriend of Moore's got into legal trouble and threatened to blow the whistle on Allen's relationship with Moore and other teens, including the 15-year-old, Moore said, triggering a string of alleged cover-ups that now threaten to undermine the Alaska political corruption investigation.

Allen's conduct with that underage girl and at least one other has been the subject of an active Anchorage police investigation since 2008. That inquiry developed more urgency last spring when a prosecutor with the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section joined local detectives in the case and began traveling to Anchorage to interview witnesses, including a visit just last week.

But long before the authorities got involved, Allen reportedly went to great lengths to keep his sexual activities secret. When Moore told Allen she expected to be called as a witness at her ex-boyfriend's trial and forced to reveal Allen's seamy and possibly criminal private life, Allen immediately sent her, her brother and her fiance on the lam to California to prevent her from being subpoenaed, Moore told an Anchorage police detective and elaborated in recent interviews with the Anchorage Daily News.

That trip, characterized as a "potential obstruction of justice" when first made public in a federal court filing last month, are among the issues cited by former state House Speaker Pete Kott in his effort to throw out his conviction on corruption charges. Allen was a key witness in Kott's case, but Kott's lawyers weren't told by prosecutors about the California trip, which could have undermined Allen's credibility under cross-examination by a defense attorney.

Kott's lawyer has also said Allen's credibility could have been challenged by other allegations that were known by the government at the time of Kott's trial. Among them: new details about assertions by the underaged girl, Bambi Tyree, now 28, that she lied under oath about her relationship with Allen at Allen's request, and that Moore was asked by Allen's attorney to swear that Allen did not have sex with Tyree when she was 15, even though she said she observed it.

Allen has told FBI agents he never asked anyone to lie under oath or tried to hide witnesses to avoid subpoenas. Messages left with his attorney in Anchorage this week weren't returned.

Allen, after pleading guilty in 2007 to bribery and other corruption charges, was also the key witness in the trials of former state Rep. Vic Kohring and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Stevens' charges were thrown out in April after his conviction. Kott and Kohring are saying they were likewise unfairly tried, and have been released from prison while their cases are sorted out. All said that prosecutors failed to provide them with discrediting information they knew about Allen and other witnesses as required by law.

For instance, in a letter to Stevens' defense team on the eve of his trial in 2008, prosecutors asserted "the government is aware of no evidence to support any suggestion that Allen asked the 'other female' (Tyree) to make a false statement under oath." But in 2004, Tyree told a federal prosecutor and an FBI agent from Alaska precisely that, and Allen's attorney admitted in a 2004 letter to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage that he had the statement in his files, though he refused to turn it over.

Defense attorneys in the corruption cases weren't allowed to raise the issue of Allen's sexual conduct. The judges in those cases agreed with prosecution arguments that even if Allen had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, a felony under state law, it was irrelevant to whether he gave bribes and illegal gifts to public officials. Just mentioning such a sensational allegation could inflame the jury against Allen and divert attention from the evidence, the judges ruled.

But the new material raises questions about how far Allen would go to protect himself. If Allen schemed to prevent a witness from testifying about his sexual conduct or tried to get two witnesses to lie under oath, that could give defense attorneys new ammunition to attack his credibility.

Kott's attorney is already making those arguments after reviewing the new material.

"It showed prior acts of criminality, and it showed Bill Allen's desperate attempts to convince his victims to lie to protect him," Sheryl Gordon McCloud said in her motion to dismiss the charges or at least get a new trial. "Its newly released documents contain allegations and evidence that Bill Allen committed a multitude of primarily sex crimes against children, and that he sought to have them swear that he never committed such acts."

The six prosecutors in the Stevens case, including the four who tried Kott and Kohring, are under investigation for criminal contempt by a special prosecutor appointed by Stevens' trial judge. The Washington Post reported Dec. 3 that the special prosecutor will wrap up his investigation over the next two months with interviews of the prosecutors.

Moore, now 32, originally told her story in 2004 to Anchorage police, the FBI and prosecutors in the Anchorage U.S. Attorney's office. She and her mother said they were led to believe that Allen would be prosecuted for sexual abuse of a minor or federal child exploitation violations. When nothing happened, Moore said in the interview, she figured Allen was so powerful he could avoid prosecution.

But the case against Allen remains active. Moore said she has met several times in Anchorage with the Washington-based trial attorney in the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, which specializes in sex crimes involving minors.

Last month, Allen was sentenced to three years in prison on his bribery plea, though he remains free while the U.S. Bureau of Prisons determines where he will go.

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