Politics & Government

Justice Dept. seeks release of 2 in Alaska bribery probe

In another shocking development in Alaska's political corruption investigation, the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday asked that two former state legislators be released from prison because their trials were tainted by the failure of prosecutors to disclose information favorable to the defense.

In filings with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department said Pete Kott and Vic Kohring should be set free while their cases are sent back to U.S. District Court in Anchorage for further consideration. They were both convicted in that court in 2007.

The Justice Department didn't describe the new information it discovered. But the issue is similar to the problem that led to dismissal of charges against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in April after he was convicted on seven counts of failure to disclose gifts and services.

In a written statement issued just after 5 p.m. on the East Coast, Attorney General Eric Holder said he has asked the Justice Department's Criminal Division "to review the department's public corruption investigation in Alaska to ensure that all other discovery obligations have been met."

The move by the Obama administration's reconstituted Justice Department "is enough to make Vic Kohring become a Democrat," lawyer John Henry Browne joked about his arch-conservative client.

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