Former Alaska legislators avoid more prison time in oil-tax bribery case

Anchorage Daily NewsOctober 20, 2011 

Prosecutors have agreed to not seek any more prison time for two former Alaska legislators, Pete Kott and Vic Kohring, despite their fresh admissions that they accepted bribes to promote oil-tax legislation favored by industry.

In sentencing memorandums filed Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the new plea bargains made by Kott and Kohring included promises that prosecutors would accept the time they've already served from 2007 convictions on corruption charges.

Kott, a former House speaker, served 17 months of a 6-year sentence. Kohring, once the chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil & Gas, served 12 months of a 3 1/2-year sentence.

Kott's deal would also reaffirm a $10,000 fine imposed in 2007 and require him to serve three years on probation, including one year under curfew. Prosecutors said they did not reach agreement with Kohring on probation, but suggested it should also be three years. Kohring is too broke to afford a fine, they said.

Prosecutors acknowledged the proposed sentences were below the minimums set by federal sentencing guidelines, but they argued the penalties were appropriate.

"Mr. Kott, the United States and the people of Alaska have an interest in bringing finality to this case," they wrote in a filing in U.S. District Court. "Mr. Kott's admission of guilt and felony conviction, and the sentence recommended herein, represent a fair, reasoned and just result."

The memorandum prosecutors filed for Kohring used identical language, changing only the name.

Prosecutors filed supplements to the sentencing memorandums and plea agreements for both men under seal.

After their convictions in 2007, Kott and Kohring won do-overs in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing successfully that their original trials were tainted by prosecutors who failed to provide them with favorable evidence in their files. Each faced upcoming retrials on three felony charges apiece, but the plea agreements reduced their charges to a single felony for each defendant.

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