WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Anchorage, Alaska, has found former Alaska state representative and former Alaska Speaker of the House Peter Kott guilty of bribery, extortion and conspiracy for corruptly soliciting and receiving financial benefits from a company in exchange for performing official acts in the Alaska State Legislature on the company’s behalf, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today.
Peter Kott, a member of the Alaska House from 1992 to 2006, who also served as Speaker of the House from Jan. 1, 2003 to Dec. 31, 2004, was convicted yesterday following a 15-day jury trial in Anchorage, before U.S. District Judge John W. Sedwick of the District of Alaska. The jury found Kott guilty of conspiracy, extortion under cover of official right, and bribery.
Kott was arrested following the unsealing of an indictment on May 4, 2007, charging him, one former and one current Alaska representative with various public corruption offenses. Kott faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the extortion charge, a maximum sentence of 10 years on the bribery charge, and a maximum sentence of five years on the conspiracy charge. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 7, 2007.
“This verdict is an important victory for the people of Alaska, who deserve to expect honest, ethical representation from their elected officials,” said Assistant Attorney General Fisher. “I thank the prosecutors and the FBI and IRS agents who worked on this case. Their effort shows that the Department of Justice will work hard to bring to justice any elected officials who betray their duties to their constituents.”
“The jury has found that Mr. Kott accepted bribes from VECO in exchange for his official acts as a member of the Alaska State Legislature. The citizens of Alaska have the right to responsible public officials representing their interests rather than filling their own coffers,” said Deputy Assistant Director Daniel D. Roberts, FBI Criminal Investigative Division. “Battling public corruption at all levels of government is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities, and no corrupt public official is exempt from FBI scrutiny.”
At trial, the jury heard evidence that Kott, while serving as a member in the state legislature, solicited bribes from and took action to benefit the financial interests of VECO Corporation, a major Alaska oil services company. Trial evidence, including more than 60 recordings of conversations involving Kott and former VECO executives, showed that Kott repeatedly promised to cast votes in VECO’s favor on a key petroleum production tax proposal pending before the Alaska legislature. In exchange, Kott received cash, checks and the promise of a future job with VECO.
The VECO executives who testified at trial, former Chief Executive Officer Bill J. Allen and former Vice President of Community Affairs and Government Relations Richard L. Smith, pleaded guilty in May 2007 to providing more than $400,000 in corrupt payments to public officials from the state of Alaska. Currently, two other defendants have been charged in connection with the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation, including former House members Victor H. Kohring and Bruce Weyhrauch. Thomas T. Anderson, a former elected member of the Alaska state House of Representatives, was convicted in July 2007 of extortion, conspiracy, bribery and money laundering for soliciting and receiving money from an FBI confidential source in exchange for agreeing to perform official acts to further a business interest represented by the source.
This case was prosecuted by trial attorneys Nicholas A. Marsh and Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, headed by Chief William M. Welch, II, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph W. Bottini and James A. Goeke from the District of Alaska. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative Division.