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DOJ asks Ninth Circuit to remand corruption case against Alaska lawmakers

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday asked the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official websites] to remand the case of two convicted Alaska lawmakers [press release] to district court and to release the prisoners on their own recognizance. Admitting that DOJ prosecutors did not disclose all necessary information to the defense during discovery, Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] said:

Department of Justice prosecutors work hard every day and perform a great service for the American people. But the Department’s mission is to do justice, not just win cases, and when we make mistakes, it is our duty to admit and correct those mistakes. We are committed to doing that.

The DOJ has not dropped the charges against former Alaska Republican state representatives Peter Kott and Victor Kohring, as it had when similar errors were discovered [JURIST report] in the prosecution of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens [US Congress backgrounder].

Kohring was convicted [NYT report] in November 2007 and sentenced to 42 months in federal prison on extortion, bribery and conspiracy charges, based largely on FBI video surveillance [ADN video archive] evidence. Kott was convicted on similar charges, as well as wire fraud, in September 2007. Kohring and Kott were charged with selling their influence to VECO Corp. [corporate website], an Alaska oil services and engineering company. Several other Alaska lawmakers, including VECO's CEO Bill Allen and Vice President Rick Smith, prominent lawyer Jim Clark, and several high profile lobbyists, were also indicted, convicted, or pleaded guilty [ADN backgrounder] to corruption-related charges. Former Alaska state representative Tom Anderson [JURIST report] was convicted and sentenced [JURIST report] to five years in prison for accepting nearly $26,000 he believed to be from private correctional facilities firm Cornell Industries [corporate website] in exchange for Anderson's influence on then-pending measures on halfway houses. Although none of the charges related to VECO, Anderson did work as a consultant [ADN report] for the company.

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