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Alaska Department of Corrections
September 27, 2009 Alaska Dispatch
After 15 years of managing Alaska prisoners housed out-of-state, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has lost its contract to Cornell Corrections. Cornell's will charge the state about $19,446,000 a year to house 900 prisoners, while CCA's plan would have cost $18,724,000 -- $722,000 less a year. Either way the state will realize savings over the $20,669,000 it now pays through a contract with CCA. The 770 inmates serving time at CCA's Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona will be moved late this year to Cornell's Hudson Correctional Facility in Colorado, a 1,250-bed center now under construction. The move -- via special U.S. Marshals Service planes -- is expected to cost Alaska more than $200,000, Alaska Department of Corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz said. The Department of Corrections denied a protest of the award filed by CCA attorneys, who said they won't launch further appeal. In the protest, CCA attorneys Charles Cole -- a former Alaska Attorney General -- and Stephen Williams argued that Cornell Corrections of Alaska lacks the basic experience the state requires, and that a preference system for Alaska-based bidders was misused. Cornell's bid was more costly than CCA's for the three-year term, but a proposal evaluation panel awarded Cornell's plan more points because of the company's status as an Alaska entity. Points matter as a committee rates the proposals in several categories. According to CCA's protest, the company gained more points than Cornell in five other evaluation categories. In denying the protest, the state said Cornell Alaska qualifies for two perks as an in-state company -- a bidder's preference and an offeror's preference -- and that Cornell meets experience standards. CCA's attorneys argue that Cornell's Alaska enterprise manages halfway house centers and lacks experience housing federal prisoners. In its bid, Cornell turned to its parent company, based in Houston, as the qualified service provider. CCA's attorneys took issue with the state awarding Alaska preferences to a business that would turn the contract over to its Texas parent company to manage. Alaska has contracted with CCA since 1994 to house sentenced prisoners out of state. Currently, 770 Alaska inmates are serving time away. Most have at least year-long sentences. Meantime, the $240 million, 1,536-bed Goose Creek Correctional Center is scheduled to open in 2012 at Point MacKenzie. The medium-security men's facility, which is expected to alleviate Alaska's prison space shortage, is being funded through bonds issued by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The state will pay off the bonds by leasing the facility from the borough, and will take ownership once the bill is settled. Cornell has tried for years to solidify support for a private prison in Alaska, and became wrapped up in a far-reaching probe into political corruption. The company's lobbyist, Bill Bobrick, pleaded guilty on charges he tried to bribe Rep. Tom Anderson--who is now serving time in federal prison himself-- to advocate for a private prison. Cornell was not implicated.

May 3, 2009 Anchorage Daily News
To some shoppers, the recession means cheap cars, undervalued homes and discount vacations. But bargain prisons? The Alaska Department of Corrections thinks so. The department currently sends 868, or 20 percent, of its inmates to a private prison in Arizona because it doesn't have enough prison beds here. The contract with that rented prison is almost up, so Corrections is shopping around for a better deal. "This is driven by our own want, our own need, to be responsible with public money," said Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt. He said he's looking for "what the market might offer us right now." The opportunity to grab the $20 million-a-year deal from the current contractor, Corrections Corp. of America, is attracting both private and state-run prisons. Alaska officials have already visited potential sites in Colorado and Minnesota and expect to visit more as the bids come in, Schmidt said. States like Nevada, in fiscal trouble and considering releasing some of their own prisoners, are taking an interest. Administrators of a new 464-bed prison in Hardin, Mont., say they plan to bid for some of Alaska's business. Hardin made the national news recently when it offered to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Greg Smith, head of an economic development agency in Hardin, thinks the Alaska contract could create jobs in his small town. He said he's been calling Alaska prison officials "as often as I can without bugging them." "We would love to be able to take care of your inmates," Smith said. Schmidt, whose department so far hasn't had to make painful recession cuts, said the contract will go to whoever offers the best deal for good security and treatment programs. "You see, we want to do more, but we don't want to pay more," the commissioner said. Schmidt has been pushing the department in a new direction since he was appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin in 2006, advocating for more inmate education, treatment programs and vocational training. His goal, he says, is to reduce the state's high recidivism rate -- three out of five prisoners are re-arrested for a new offense after leaving prison. The number of inmates in the United States boomed in the 1980s and 1990s, in part because of high crime rates and stiffened sentencing laws, particularly for drug offenders, according to the Pew Center on the States. Alaska's prison population also swelled during that time. In the mid-1990s, Alaska started sending prisoners out of state to one of the many private prisons that cropped up in response to the growth industry. The Red Rock prison in Eloy, Ariz., currently holds medium-security inmates from Alaska sentenced to at least two years, said corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz. The state pays Corrections Corp. of America $61.63 per day, per prisoner. Additional costs, such as travel and medical expenses make the real price higher, he said. It's still cheaper than what the state pays for the maximum-security Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward. That works out to about $140 per day, per prisoner, Schmitz said. The state doesn't like housing its prisoners Outside. Families can't afford to visit, so prisoners don't get the support and rehabilitative benefits of family connection, according to rehab experts. Guards tend to be low-paid, and the state can't keep a good eye on how inmates are treated day to day. Plus, the prisons are subject to the policies and laws of the other state. Frank Smith, a vocal opponent of private prisons, thinks there's more to Alaska's decision to switch contracts. The Arizona prison "is a mess. It's always been a mess. Alaska has never been good at monitoring it," said Smith, a former Alaskan who works for Private Corrections Institute, an anti-private prison group based in Florida. The people in the prison-for-profit business "don't provide anything they don't have to absolutely provide," he said. Commissioner Schmidt denies that, as do the people who run Red Rock. They've had a good relationship with Alaska since 1995, they say. The company expects to rebid for the contract.

July 14, 2005 Anchorage Daily News
A corporate shake-up appears to have killed controversial plans to put a boys' psychiatric treatment center in the MacKay Building annex on downtown's eastern flanks.  Texas-based Cornell Cos., which underwent an upheaval last month, has withdrawn its application to operate a 60-bed psychiatric center for teenage boys in the three-story building on Fourth Avenue between Cordova and Denali streets.  Cornell officials did not return phone calls from the Daily News on Wednesday. But news accounts say that an investment firm, Pirate Capital, which owns 15 percent of Cornell, was unhappy with the company's financial performance and took control of the board of directors in June.

Alaska Legislature
Cornell, VECO
January 29, 2011 Anchorage Daily News
Former Alaska halfway house mogul Bill Weimar, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and financial wrongdoing in Alaska's political corruption scandal, is being sought by Florida authorities on a charge of child sexual battery. According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, an arrest warrant was issued for Weimar, 70, on Monday. The alleged victim was under 12 years old, according to warrant information posted on the sheriff's website. The sheriff's office gave Weimar's last known address as a boat slip at the prestigious Marina Jack's in Sarasota harbor. A spokesman for the Sarasota Police Department, Capt. Paul Sutton, said Friday that reports of Weimar living on a boat in a marina turned out to not be true. A man answering the phone at the dockmaster's office at Marina Jack's said a cabin cruiser was docked at the slip referred to in the warrant but that it wasn't a residence. "We don't allow live-aboards here," he said. He said he didn't know whether Weimar was renting the slip. The website of Crimestoppers of Sarasota County posted a wanted picture of Weimar and gave his date of birth as identical to the former Alaskan's. Sutton said the case against Weimar was being investigated by a detective in the sheriff's office. Reached after work on her cell phone, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office said she couldn't get any information about the case after hours. A friend of Weimar in Alaska, attorney Jon Buchholdt, said Weimar lived on the west coast of Florida but he didn't know the town. Buchholdt said he knew nothing about the accusations and hadn't spoken to Weimar recently. The Seattle attorney who represented Weimar in his federal criminal case in Alaska, David Bukey, said he also knew nothing about the Sarasota allegations. Weimar was once the principal owner of the Allvest Corp., which had a chain of halfway houses around Alaska that contracted with the Alaska Department of Corrections to house state prisoners, usually six months before their terms were up. Allvest also had a drug and alcohol testing facility. He sold the halfway house business to the national private prison company Cornell Corrections Inc. He later partnered with Cornell and the oil-field service company Veco in an effort to persuade the Legislature and some Alaska communities to build a large private prison in Alaska. But that effort was mingled with corruption. A legislative candidate's complaint to the FBI that Weimar tried to hand him an envelope stuffed with cash became one of the impetuses in 2004 for "Polar Pen," the investigation that eventually resulted in indictments or guilty pleas of six legislators and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. One case is still pending. The rest were convicted, though Stevens' case was later thrown out over prosecutorial misconduct.

February 15, 2010 AP
State Sen. Johnny Ellis took to the Senate floor Monday morning to recognize the behind-the-scenes work of a former state legislative aide who died last year. Dee Hubbard became a confidential source to the FBI back in 2003 as it began to investigate influence peddling in the state Legislature. Most people think of the federal corruption investigation in Alaska as a probe of bribery associated with oil taxes, but it began as "Operation Polar Pen" -- a private prison investigation. And Hubbard was a crusader against private prisons. "She is the person who very quietly with no fanfare remained anonymous throughout the FBI investigation, the Veco scandal, the private prison scandal," said Ellis, an Anchorage Democrat. She explained how the legislative process worked to FBI agents and told them "who's who," Ellis said. "She was just a person there who was interested in, as she always said, 'cleaning up Alaska politics,'" Ellis said. "She was motivated by the right kinds of factors." If prosecutors later made mistakes in pursuing cases, "it wasn't because of Dee," Ellis said. She gave impeccable advice, he said. Hubbard was diagnosed with liver and kidney failure in March and died in August. Her husband, Charlie, and two grown sons are still struggling to cope with her death, Ellis said. Her contributions may not be fully revealed for years, the senator said.

June 13, 2009 Anchorage Daily-News
Former Rep. Vic Kohring says he still supports private prisons even as his enthusiasm clashes with his own observations from inside one, where he said equipment went unrepaired, meals lacked fresh produce and prisoner welfare appeared to take a back seat to saving money. "That's the downside of the private-run facility," said Kohring, two days after he left the privately run Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif. "There was a certain amount of indifference there." Kohring spent about 10 months at the low-security camp at Taft following his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2007. He and former House Speaker Pete Kott were freed last week while they argue that their bribery convictions should be overturned because prosecutors failed to give them favorable evidence uncovered by the FBI. Their first court hearing will be Wednesday, though it will mainly deal with their conditions for release, not the substance of their arguments. Kott was held in a prison camp owned and operated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at Sheridan, Ore. Kott hasn't responded to interview requests. Kohring was in the process of transferring from Taft to Sheridan when release orders were issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick of Anchorage. On Friday, after reporting to probation officers in Anchorage, Kohring spoke extensively with a reporter about his year inside the federal corrections system. Taft is a federally owned facility in the California desert. It opened in 1997 as a demonstration project to test how private companies could operate a federal prison. Wackenhut Corrections and Geo Group Inc. held contracts there. In 2007, Management & Training Corp., a privately held company based in Centerville, Utah, took over operations under a four-year, $144 million contract. "It seemed pretty apparent they were cutting -- they were trying to be ultra-efficient, cutting back as much as they could," Kohring said. "If things would break down, they'd stay broken down for a long time -- exercise equipment, telephones." Meals were loaded with carbohydrates, "too many processed foods, not enough fresh produce," he said. "There was a lot of complaints that the food there wasn't up to par, at least not in comparison to, say, Sheridan." Kohring also said that medical care was inadequate. "I witnessed some pretty bad injuries when I was in Taft there. Guys falling over, one guy broke his femur, another broke his hip, one guy was punched in the face and he had glass embedded in his eye and it took him about a day before they finally took him to the doctor, at Bakersfield, in the hospital. It was horrid." His own pre-existing back and neck injury, from a car accident, got him neither sympathy nor care, he said. "My back didn't get any kind of attention at all, other than ibuprofen. I was told by the director of medical to shut up ... They said no to everything." He was warned that if he kept complaining, he'd wind up cleaning the kitchen, he said. Carl Stuart, communication director for Management & Training Corp., said Saturday that his company does what's required under its federal contracts. Bureau of Prisons officials regularly inspect its operations, and some contract prisons have full-time, on-site government monitors, though he didn't know if that was the case in Taft.

November 10, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who once ran a lucrative Alaska halfway house business and is now retired and living in Montana, will face a federal judge Wednesday morning for sentencing on two felonies. Weimar pleaded guilty in August to a role in a scheme to illegally funnel $20,000 in 2004 to a political consultant for an Alaska legislative candidate, knowing that if the candidate won, he would back a private prison long sought by Weimar. Prosecutors want Weimar, 68, to serve a year. Weimar's lawyer says a sentence of five months' incarceration and five months of home detention, as proposed by the federal probation office, would be fair. But Weimar asks that he be allowed to do five months of community service rather than home detention.

August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

November 27, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
State Sen. Lesil McGuire was accused Tuesday of making veiled threats to dissuade a lobbyist from testifying in the corruption case against her husband, former state Rep. Tom Anderson. The surprising information came up during the sentencing hearing of Bill Bobrick, a once-prominent lobbyist who began cooperating in September 2006 with the FBI in its investigation of corruption in Alaska politics. In an interview after the hearing, McGuire denied making any threats and said Bobrick was deflecting attention from himself onto her "on the day of his reckoning with the public." Bobrick, 52, pleaded guilty in May to conspiring with Anderson to push the interests of a private prison firm in exchange for money. He funneled nearly $24,000 to Anderson, money put up by a prison consultant who was working undercover for the FBI. In all, Anderson received nearly $26,000. The prison company, Cornell Cos., didn't know about the scheme, federal officials have said. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ordered Bobrick to serve five months in prison, followed by five months of house arrest on the felony conspiracy conviction. That's the minimum sentence under federal guidelines, which are advisory. It's far less than the two years to 30 months that Bobrick would have faced if he didn't cooperate. And it's much less than the five years that Sedwick sentenced Anderson to serve. The Republican who represented East Anchorage in the Legislature for two terms also initially cooperated with the FBI, then decided to fight the charges against him. He was indicted in December 2006 and a jury convicted him in July of seven felony counts including bribery and money laundering. Anderson reports to a federal prison on Monday in Oregon.

November 22, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Once-prominent lobbyist Bill Bobrick almost surely is going to prison. But not for long. His sentencing on a single felony charge of conspiracy, part of an ongoing federal investigation of political corruption in Alaska, is set for Tuesday morning before U.S. District Judge John Sedwick. Bobrick has been cooperating with the government, so will get much less time than the five years slapped on the only other defendant sentenced so far in the corruption probe, former state Rep. Tom Anderson. "I take full responsibility for my crime," Bobrick, 52, said in a brief telephone call on Wednesday. "I can never apologize too much to my fellow Alaskans for the damage I have done to our political system." Prosecutors are asking that he be sentenced to a year and a day, which triggers a rule that requires he do all the time in prison, less only good time. With good behavior, he could be out after about 10 1/2 months. They also want two years of probation, prosecutors wrote in a memo to the judge. The defense wants a sentence of less than a year and is asking that Bobrick be allowed to serve at least part of it under house arrest or in a halfway house. That would allow him to do community service as he's serving his time, which is what his attorney said he really wants. Federal prisoners don't get "good time" for sentences of less than a year. "Bobrick is not pleading for mercy," his attorney, Doug Pope, wrote in his sentencing memorandum. "He is requesting that the court credit him with providing substantial assistance to the government, and give him a chance to atone for his crime." If he hadn't cooperated, he'd be facing two years or longer for the conspiracy conviction under sentencing guidelines. Bobrick is married and has lived in Alaska for 32 years. His wife is in her third year of medical school. Pope filed in court more than 50 letters of support, many trying to convince the judge to fashion a sentence that puts Bobrick to work doing community service rather than serving time in prison. At least six former Anchorage Assembly members and several law enforcement representatives are among the dozens who wrote in. Bobrick's not the type to get in trouble again, his supporters said. Many mentioned good work he's done as a volunteer for years. They said he apologized to his friends, clients and colleagues one by one long before his case became public. "I believe that Bill Bobrick knows that his actions were wrong and that he is full of remorse about the choices he made," wrote Jane Angvik, a former Anchorage Assembly member. She met him in 1986 through political activity and has served on boards with him. She wrote that she's talked with him about the crime and he wept as he described his regret. "He said he had 'lost his way,' that he has changed, and that he is prepared to accept whatever punishment the court deems appropriate." Bobrick pleaded guilty in May to conspiring with Anderson to push the interests of a private prison firm in exchange for money. He became one of the main government witnesses against Anderson in a trial this summer. A consultant to Cornell Cos. funneled $24,000 to Bobrick in the scheme, and Bobrick eventually passed almost all of it on to Anderson. The consultant, former state Corrections Commissioner Frank Prewitt, was working undercover for the FBI and Cornell knew nothing of the bribes, officials have said. Until he was caught up in the ongoing, multipronged FBI investigation last year, Bobrick was a powerful player in the city. He didn't lobby the state Legislature but was active politically and served as executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party in the late 1980s. He then registered as a lobbyist in the municipality. For years, he had more clients than anyone with city business. He's lost all that now. The FBI confronted him in late September 2006 with secretly recorded telephone calls and meetings about the scheme with Anderson. He began cooperating on Sept. 28, 2006. The defense expects the government to agree that his help "has been as broad and as extensive as the government requested, that his assistance extended beyond the 'Cornell Corrections conspiracy' which was the subject of the Anderson indictment and trial, and involved actively assisting in collecting evidence, including recording conversations." Bobrick was vaguely threatened before the Anderson trial, according to Pope. He described it as "contacts implying threats of economic injury." "Those threats were credible," Pope wrote. "It is reasonable to conclude that they were an attempt to influence Bobrick's testimony or to dissuade him from testifying at all." Pope didn't provide details but indicated in his memo that more information was in another filing, which was not made public. The government is seeking a $5,000 fine. But Bobrick no longer can make a living and should not be fined, Pope wrote.

November 13, 2007 AP
A former Alaska lawmaker convicted of seven counts of conspiracy and bribery will begin his five-year federal prison sentence next month. Former Rep. Tom Anderson on Monday told Anchorage television station KTUU that he will report to a federal prison south of Portland, Ore., on Dec. 3. Anderson, 40, a two-term Republican from Anchorage who chose not to run for re-election in 2006, was convicted in July of taking nearly $24,000 he thought was coming from a private prison firm, Cornell Industries Inc., in exchange for his assistance on legislation. The money was supplied by the FBI through an informant under contract to Cornell, Frank Prewitt, a former Alaska Department of Corrections commissioner. Prewitt secretly recorded his conversations with Anderson and a co-conspirator, lobbyist Bill Bobrick, between July 2004 and March 2005. Cornell Industries was not aware of the bribery scheme or investigation. The 60-month sentence fell within the presentencing report guidelines of 51 to 63 months. Anderson was the first of four former Republican Alaska lawmakers arrested on federal corruption charges. Former House Speaker Pete Kott was convicted in October of conspiracy to solicit financial benefits, extortion and bribery. He will be sentenced Dec. 7. Former state Rep. Vic Kohring was convicted earlier this month of bribery, conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted interference with commerce by extortion. He was acquitted of another count of interference with commerce by extortion. Sentencing was set Feb. 6. The corruption trial of former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch has been delayed.

November 7, 2007 UPI
The Alaska Public Offices Commission is coordinating with the U.S. Justice Department to probe what Veco Corp. illegally did to benefit Alaska politicians. The commission, which investigates campaign-finance violations, is focusing on matters such as polls the oil-services company may have illegally bought for legislators, as well as illegal Veco campaign contributions, The Anchorage Daily News reported. The Justice Department, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service are conducting a widespread investigation into alleged political corruption of lawmakers in the Alaska Legislature, focusing in particular on lawmakers' official actions in connection with the oil industry, fisheries and private corrections industry. Former Alaska lawmaker Pete Kott, accused of trading his legislative influence for bribes, was convicted of corruption charges in the scandal Sept. 27. Veco founder and Chief Executive Officer Bill Allen and Vice President for Community and Government Affairs Rick Smith pleaded guilty May 7 to charges of bribery and conspiracy. Because of the chances of overlap between the state and federal probes, the state commission is cooperating closely with the Justice Department, particularly on the issue of subpoenas, the newspaper said.

October 9, 2007 KTUU
For the first time since facing federal corruption charges, former Anchorage Representative Tom Anderson is publicly admitting he broke the law. Anderson was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges in July. His admission comes about a week before his sentencing. In a memo filed with U.S. District Court yesterday (Monday), Anderson says "I accept full responsibility for the choices I've made and the damge I've done...." Anderson's lawyer says he is seeking leniency - specifically, no more than 33 months behind bars. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini says prosecutors will likely request a sentence of 5 to six years. Bottini says it's too late for Anderson to acknowledge he did wrong, since he could have pleaded guilty before the trial. Anderson was found guilty for taking money he thought was coming from a private prison company. The nearly $26,000 actually came from an FBI informant who secretly recorded conversations with Anderson and former municipal lobbyist Bill Bobrick.

September 19, 2007 KTUU
Cornell Cos. claims it will no longer attempt to sell projects here in Alaska. The company has made big headlines in Alaska over the last several months as the private prison firm used a decoy by government informant Frank Prewitt in crafting a bribery scheme with former Anchorage lobbyist Bill Bobrick and former Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson. Both Anderson and Bobrick have been convicted of corruption and bribery in the scheme. Cornell has tried building a private prison in Alaska three times -- in Delta junction, Kenai and Whittier -- and has been unsuccessful in each instance. Now Cornell CEO James Hyman said he's done. "We understand how the [Department of Justice] had to use bait to get what they needed. We are a little chagrined to be that bait," Hyman said. Although the government successfully used Cornell as bait to take down Anderson and Bobrick, the company was not involved in the kickbacks and knew nothing of Prewitt's arrangement with federal agents. Instead, Cornell was simply part of an FBI cover in order to keep the bribery framework it was monitoring with Anderson and Bobrick believable. Unbeknownst to Cornell, Prewitt sought Anderson's help on matters key to the company's future plans, including muscling through the complex bureaucracy to prove to the state those projects were needed. During the Anderson trial, Prewitt told the court he made an illegal campaign contribution utilizing money from a former Cornell executive. After hearing that, Hyman said the company wanted to ensure its activities in Alaska had all been above board. Hyman said the company talked to current and ex-employees to try and discover any wrongdoing. He said he is confident there have been no issues since he took over in 2005 and said there's no evidence it happen in prior years either. Among the projects Cornell was pursuing in Alaska, and Prewitt was using to snare Anderson, was a new juvenile residential treatment facility for Anchorage. The project suffered from poor community support for the Downtown location it chose for a detention facility in addition to the paperwork and bureaucratic snags. Cornell currently operates six halfway houses across the state, including three here in Anchorage. A company executive announced that is where its focus will remain for the foreseeable future. "We are not interested in the juvenile sector here. We are not interested in building a private prison here or operating a private prison here. That is not where we are going to focus," Hyman said. Alaska Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt said the department's relationship with Cornell is still strong. "Right now, they want to work with us instead of against us, and I think we have a pretty good partnership right now," Schmidt said. The possibility of constructing a private prison in Alaska was taken off the table three years ago when the state legislature passed a bill requiring any prison expansion in the state to be state-run and state-operated.

July 30, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Federal law enforcement agents are currently searching the Girdwood home of Alaska U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, an FBI agent said. "All I can say is that agents from the FBI and IRS are currently conducting a search at that residence," said Dave Heller, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Anchorage office. The search began this afternoon, he said. It's the only such search warrant currently being served, he said. He directed other questions to the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington. A spokesman there had no comment. Federal investigators and a grand jury looking into public corruption in Alaska have been asking questions about a 2000 remodeling project at Stevens' home, particularly the involvement of the oil field services firm Veco. Three contractors who worked on the project told the Daily News that their records had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, and others connected with the work and with Stevens had been interviewed. One of the contractors who worked on the job said he was hired by Veco CEO Bill Allen for the job, and while his bills were paid by Stevens and his wife, Catherine, invoices were reviewed first by Veco. Allen and a Veco vice president pleaded guilty in May to bribery, extortion and other charges connected with paying off state legislators.

July 10, 2007 KTVA TV
Cornell Cos., whose lobbyist became the federal government's chief witness in the corruption case against former Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson, wants it known it had nothing to with the bribery scheme. The Texas-based corrections company runs five halfway houses across the state. It hired lobbyist Frank Prewitt to help advance its interest in those and other areas, including developing a privately run prison in Alaska and a juvenile treatment facility in Anchorage. Cornell says while Prewitt may have told now-convicted co-conspirators Bill Bobrick and Anderson that the bribe money he had to offer was coming from Cornell, in reality, the company says they had no knowledge of what was going on. The company also claims it had no idea Prewitt was an FBI informant. However, Prewitt did admit under oath that he had been implicated but not yet charged in an illegal contribution scheme involving a Cornell Cos. executive in 2003. Prewitt testified he helped funnel $3,000 from that executive to an Alaska politician that same year. The FBI has acknowledged the money Prewitt used in the bribe scheme involving Anderson came from them and not Cornell. Cornell Cos. Consultant Charles Seigel said the company does not support bribery.

July 10, 2007 KTVA TV
Alaska Senator Ted Stevens says he's worried about how a corruption investigation could affect his run for re-election next year. The 83-year-old Republican has drawn Justice Department scrutiny over a renovation project in 2000, that more than doubled the size of his home in Girdwood. The remodeling was overseen by Bill Allen -- a contractor who has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators. Allen is founder of VECO Corporation -- an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts. Allen is cooperating with the FBI. It appears investigators are looking at whether VECO got anything in return for the home improvement help. Alaska's senior senator is caught up in a larger probe that included FBI raids last summer at offices of six Alaska legislators. Those legislators include Stevens' son, Ben, who was then the president of the state Senate. Ted Stevens told The Associated Press recently that, "The worst thing about this investigation is that it does change your life in terms of employment potential... "It doesn't matter what anyone says, it does shake you up. If this is still hanging around a year from November, it could cause me some trouble." Monday, a federal jury convicted former state Representative Tom Anderson on all seven counts in a corruption trial in Anchorage. Anderson was charged with seven felonies, including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and interfering with commerce, a charge connected to a demand for payments. Prosecutors said he conspired to take money he thought was coming from a private prison firm, Cornell Industries, Incorporated. The conspiracy called for Cornell to invest in a Web-based public affairs newsletter that Anderson would write for, something a private prison firm would not normally sponsor, as a way to pay off Anderson.

July 10, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Federal jurors said they relied on former state Rep. Tom Anderson's own words to convict him Monday of conspiracy, bribery and other charges related to political corruption. Eleven jurors returned seven guilty verdicts around 1:30 p.m., finding Anderson, 39, guilty of all felony charges against him. Witnesses testified Anderson took money to do the bidding of a private prison firm. In all, Anderson received $25,838 in 2004 and 2005, witnesses said. The money was supplied by the FBI through Frank Prewitt, a consultant for Cornell Cos., who secretly recorded his conversations with Anderson and a co-conspirator, former lobbyist Bill Bobrick. Juror No. 9 was dismissed Monday after a closed hearing for reasons that weren't explained. Both sides agreed to go forward with fewer than 12. Jurors at first were split over whether Anderson had been entrapped by the government, said several reached after the verdict. Jury forewoman Wendy Gilbert of Valdez said the key evidence came from a July 28, 2004, recording of a conversation among Anderson, Prewitt and Bobrick -- the first after the conspiracy began, according to the government. Jurors asked for it to be replayed on Monday and found that Anderson had an idea of what was expected of him from the start. "They started talking about what he could do for Cornell," juror Travis Gardner of Chugiak said. And when Anderson was asked about his credentials, Gardner said, the first thing he said was that he's a legislator. It didn't matter if Anderson would have taken the same actions anyway, such as getting on key budget committees, because he accepted money for doing so, said Gardner, 23. Another juror said she felt prosecutors presented a "substantial amount of evidence." Asked what was key in their decision, juror Marie Gieryic of Eagle River replied in an e-mail: "the recorded conversations of Anderson and others." Those conversations, along with other evidence, showed "Anderson understood he was taking part in illegal activities," wrote Gieryic, a mother of three who works in a child care center. MESSAGE TO JUNEAU The verdict should help "reinject ethics" into the Legislature and send a message "that there is a significant price to pay for abusing the public's trust in this manner," she wrote. Legislators need to think twice before they sell out. Anderson and his attorney seemed stunned by the verdict. When the jury left the room, Anderson uttered a weary sigh. "I'm devastated," he said. He said he'd appeal. "The prosecution has criminalized being a legislator over this past year. And I think I fell victim to that," Anderson said. Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler said Anderson will need to think over what to do next after consulting with his wife, state Sen. Lesil McGuire, and a circle of advisers. "I'm speechless right now," Stockler said. "But when you go up against the government, you risk losing." Anderson never tied the payment of money to any official acts as a legislator, Stockler said. "He was always willing to help, and it had nothing to do with money." For the reading of the verdict, the courtroom quickly filled with FBI agents, prosecutors and staff members. McGuire wasn't there. She and other friends and family came to the trial but couldn't get to the federal building in downtown Anchorage in time after jurors announced they had reached a verdict, Anderson said. McGuire was not accused of wrongdoing. In fact, prosecutors used the fact that Anderson hid the payments from her as further evidence of a shady deal. NO ENTRAPMENT With seven counts and an entrapment defense, the case was particularly complex, said Gilbert, the jury forewoman. "There's a lot on the line and a lot on your shoulders, and you want to make sure you do the right thing," said Gilbert, a pipeline lab technician and mother of three. A common thread for jurors was that none knew much about the case beforehand from news coverage. In the end, jurors concluded Anderson had not been lured to commit crimes by a government agent. He was not "entrapped." Juror Gardner, who works for a trucking company, said the case was a lesson in Alaska politics. "I didn't even know what lobbying was," he said. But it didn't make him cynical, he said. Businesses should have a way to get their interests heard -- just not by paying legislators, he said. The public corruption case against Anderson provided the first real test for the FBI and prosecutors in their ongoing investigation of Alaska state legislators. Three other politicians are awaiting trial, though the schemes alleged in those cases are different. Those cases involve allegations of bribes paid by executives with oil field services contractor Veco. Lawyers for indicted former Reps. Bruce Weyhrauch and Pete Kott, whose trial is set for Sept. 5, said the guilty verdict won't have any impact on their strategy because the facts are so different. State Rep. Vic Kohring, whose trial is set for Oct. 22 and who is stepping down from his post next week, said he was saddened for Anderson but that his own resolve to fight the charges against him had not waned. Nick Marsh and Joe Bottini prosecuted the case against Anderson. They didn't comment on the verdict, nor did the FBI in Alaska. The only government statement came out of Washington, D.C. "Anderson has been held accountable for his crimes thanks to the hard work of federal prosecutors and FBI agents, and the Department of Justice will continue its pursuit of public corruption at all levels of government," U.S. Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said in a written statement. KEY WITNESS One of the government's main witnesses was former lobbyist Bobrick. Gardner said jurors didn't find Bobrick that believable. Bobrick pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy in the scheme and agreed to cooperate with the government in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. Bobrick told jurors about a series of checks he wrote to Anderson or his consulting business that went far beyond the initial payments revealed before the trial: $3,000 on Feb. 14, 2005, $1,500 on Feb. 25, 2005, and more, on into June 2005. In all, Bobrick passed nearly $24,000 through to Anderson, and Prewitt gave him another $2,000 directly, according to their testimony. Bobrick testified he had an idea for a political Web site that he had hoped would become a real business with Anderson, but it never did. Anderson was paid "for being a legislator," Bobrick told jurors. But, as jurors indicated, Anderson's own words were most damaging. On a Nov. 16, 2004, recording of a meeting in his Anchorage legislative office, Anderson brought up money and told Prewitt he didn't want to split the next payment with Bobrick. Anderson served in the state House from 2003 to this year. He didn't run in 2006. U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick set sentencing for Oct. 2. Anderson faces certain prison time and significant fines.

July 6, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
On June 13, 2005, an FBI agent left a message on then-state Rep. Tom Anderson's cell phone asking for his views on an upcoming federal appointment because he had been such a friend of law enforcement in the past. But when Anderson showed up at the FBI building in downtown Anchorage the next day, he discovered that was just a ploy. He was the target of an undercover FBI investigation. Huge blown-up pictures from a five-hour-long Prince William Sound sailing trip on the boat of Cornell Cos. consultant Frank Prewitt were on the wall. Agents played secretly made recordings of his conversations with Prewitt and lobbyist Bill Bobrick. The agents wanted to get Anderson to cooperate in its ongoing corruption investigation. And for a time he did, prosecutors said. The defense in Anderson's corruption trial wrapped up Thursday after five quick witnesses. The case is expected to go to the jury today after closing arguments. Anderson is charged with seven federal felonies, including bribery, extortion and money laundering. Defense lawyer Paul Stockler maintained that Anderson never took any legislative actions for money. He tried to portray Anderson as a man who had no inclination to do anything shady but was lured in to doing questionable things by the FBI. Anderson didn't take the stand. After court ended for the day on Thursday, Anderson said he trusted Stockler's judgment in directing his defense. With the case about to go to the jury, he said he felt anxious but didn't want to say much. Earlier in the trial, Bobrick testified that he created a business that was supposed to produce a Web site about Alaska politics. But he told jurors that it ultimately became a sham used to funnel illegal payments from Prewitt to Anderson. Prosecutors assert that the money was used to get the legislator to do Cornell's bidding on halfway houses, a juvenile treatment center and a private prison. Though Anderson was supposed to have produced material for the Web site, witnesses have testified that he never did. Bobrick has pleaded guilty and Prewitt worked undercover for the FBI, making recordings "as a cooperating witness."

July 4, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
On the stand for a second day in federal court Tuesday, former lobbyist Bill Bobrick told jurors that his idea for a political Web site started as a real business venture in 2004 with then-state Rep. Tom Anderson. It wasn't supposed to be a way "to bribe Tom Anderson or channel him funds. But it certainly ended up that way," Bobrick testified. Ultimately, its only real purpose was to disguise payments to Anderson, he told jurors. Anderson never did any real work for the Web site and received the money "for being a legislator," Bobrick said. The Web site never got off the ground. Prosecutors rested their corruption case against Anderson on Tuesday afternoon after calling eight witnesses over four days. The trial began June 25 with jury selection, which lasted 2 1/2 days. Prosecutors contend that Bobrick's Web site business was used to funnel payments from a Cornell Cos. consultant to Anderson so that he would do the company's bidding on halfway houses, a juvenile treatment center and a private prison. Anderson faces seven felony counts. Bobrick has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and said he is cooperating with the government in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. In all, Anderson received a total of $25,838, based on testimony about various checks. That's much more money than was previously disclosed. The charges list $12,838 in payments to Anderson. The FBI actually provided the money. Cornell was unaware of any scheme, the government has said.

July 2, 2007 AP
Government informer Frank Prewitt had plenty of chances to call off a scheme to funnel payments to former state Rep. Tom Anderson but did not, Anderson's attorney contended in federal court Monday. In a second day of questioning of the prosecution's star witness in the corruption case against Anderson, defense attorney Paul Stockler hammered away at conversations secretly recorded by Prewitt and his motives for doing so. Prewitt is a former Corrections Department commissioner and a consultant for a private prison company, Cornell Industries Inc. At least 10 times, Stockler said, Anderson or the man he's accused of conspiring with, Bill Bobrick, posed questions to Prewitt as to his comfort level with their plan to have Cornell spend money on their proposed Web-based public affairs newsletter. Prewitt, cooperating with an FBI investigation, acknowledged he did not halt their plan. "My role was not to advise them as to what was and wasn't illegal ... My role was to have conversations and see where they went," Prewitt said. Anderson was arrested Dec. 7 and charged with single counts of conspiracy and bribery, three counts of money laundering and two counts of interfering with commerce, a charge connected to a demand for payments. He's accused of conspiring with Bobrick, a former municipal lobbyist in Anchorage, to solicit and obtain money for Anderson's influence as a lawmaker. According to prosecutors, the newsletter company was a front for Cornell to pay Anderson money that could not be traced directly to Cornell. Prewitt testified that Cornell, whose entire business in Alaska comes through government contracts, had no use for advertising in a newsletter or sponsoring it. Bobrick in May pleaded guilty to bribing Anderson. Following testimony by Prewitt and former Corrections Commissioner Marc Antrim, Bobrick took the stand for the last half hour of proceedings Monday. Stockler contends Prewitt cooperated with investigators because Prewitt himself also was being investigated, and that Prewitt steered recorded conversations with Anderson to payoffs. In his cross examination of Prewitt, Stockler's questions followed several themes: — Prewitt never gave his opinion that Cornell's payments would be illegal or directly tied Anderson's help to them. — Even before the alleged conspiracy, Anderson supported Cornell's interests. — Anderson's interest in shielding his link to Cornell was connected to his re-election and not offending corrections constituents whose jobs could be threatened if Cornell's private prisons were built. Stockler also closely questioned Prewitt on his instructions for recording conversations from the FBI, and whether he was instructed to lie. Prewitt acknowledged one lie — his promise to run the newsletter and payment scheme "up the flagpole" to the principles at Cornell. He never did. "So that was a lie?" Stockler asked. "I guess that would be true," Prewitt said. But Prewitt kept his composure as he methodically responded to Stockler's other questions. He acknowledged that other lawmakers, including Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, had intervened for Cornell, even fielding "talking points" composed by Prewitt for making Cornell's case. The difference was, Hawker did not receive payments, Prewitt said. In some instances, Bobrick's concern that Prewitt might consider the arrangement over whether Prewitt considered the scheme a "bad idea" or "sleazy" was because Bobrick was afraid it would jeopardize his own $5,000 per month annual contract with Cornell, Prewitt said. In another, Bobrick expressed concern that Prewitt would experience "sticker shock" over the amount of money requested — three payments of $8,000. Under a questioning by Nicholas A. Marsh, a trial attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Prewitt said that acknowledging the illegality of the payments to Anderson or Bobrick would have defeated the purpose of the investigation. "That would have had an immediate chilling effect on the inquiry," Prewitt said. He denied that he was ever told by the FBI that he had to "bag a state legislator." Marsh asked whether Anderson had "many times" acknowledged that Cornell had no interest in the newsletter and knew it was a sham. "No question about it, the purpose of this arrangement was not the Web site?" Marsh asked. "No question," Prewitt replied. In the half hour he was on the stand, under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph W. Bottini, Bobrick had time only to lay out his background as a construction worker, union official, director of the Democratic party and legislative aide. Bobrick said he befriended Anderson in 2001 when Anderson was a member of the Anchorage School Board and they eventually discussed going into business. Anderson, a moderate Republican, would lobby in Juneau and Bobrick, then a Democrat, in Anchorage. Anderson approached him in early 2004 and told him he needed money. He asked Bobrick if he could find him contract work. "He was my friend and I wanted to help him out," Bobrick said. He is scheduled to continue testifying Tuesday.

July 1, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
A former deputy corrections commissioner whose name came up Friday in the Tom Anderson corruption trial was working as an informant for the FBI in 2004 when he asked a prison company consultant for money, an FBI spokesman said Saturday. Former Cornell Cos. consultant Frank Prewitt testified Friday that he worked with deputy commissioner Don Stolworthy that year to develop a compromise on competing bills to build a new prison. One measure could have led to a Cornell-run prison in Whittier. The other, supported by the Murkowski administration, pushed a state-run prison in the Valley. Prewitt, a state corrections commissioner in the 1990s, testified Stolworthy told him he was worried about losing his job because of union opposition to a private prison. Prewitt said he assured Stolworthy that “people would be there for him” if that happened. Prewitt told jurors that Stolworthy eventually began seeking money, as a sort of insurance policy, if he lost his job. But he only did that because the FBI asked him to, FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said Saturday. Stolworthy was working for the FBI as a “cooperating witness,” he said. “We approached him out of the blue,” Gonzalez said. “We asked for his help and he said he’d be glad to help us.” Stolworthy “was squeaky clean,” Gonzalez said. The fact that Stolworthy was working undercover for the FBI never came up during the trial on Friday. Prewitt testified that he was shocked that Stolworthy was asking for money and read him the ethics act. The FBI won’t discuss what evidence it may have collected on Prewitt through Stolworthy. But in his opening statement on Wednesday, federal prosecutor Joe Bottini said that Prewitt may have tried to improperly influence a state corrections official. The matter came up because Prewitt is the government’s star witness in the corruption case against Anderson, a former state representative. Defense attorney Paul Stockler cross-examined Prewitt on Friday about possible illegal activities in his background and pressed him on whether he was just testifying against Anderson to save himself. Efforts to reach Stolworthy Saturday were unsuccessful. When the state issued a statement announcing his resignation in January 2005, it said he accepted a job for the U.S. Justice Department as warden of a prison in Iraq. Anderson’s trial resumes Monday as Stockler’s cross-examination of Prewitt continues.

June 28, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Prosecutors say Tom Anderson was a debt-ridden politician who sold his office for $12,838 and knew exactly what he was doing. The defense says the real culprit is former state corrections commissioner Frank Prewitt, who was under investigation himself and exploited Anderson to save himself. Anderson was a hard-working legislator who never took any official actions in exchange for money, said defense attorney Paul Stockler. Jurors on Wednesday heard those contrasting views as the two sides gave opening statements in the public corruption trial of Anderson. The first witnesses will be called today. Anderson, a two-term state representative who didn't run again in 2006, is fighting seven felony charges including bribery, extortion and money laundering. A jury of eight women and four men, plus four alternatives, was seated Wednesday afternoon. They were picked from a pool of 102 after hours of questioning by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick and lawyers spread over three days. Some scribbled notes as the lawyers gave their opening statements. A small crowd of spectators came to hear. A friend of Anderson's who has been collecting money for his defense sat in, but Anderson's wife, state Sen. Lesil McGuire, didn't attend. Jurors will be asked to absorb complicated information over the next few days, prosecutor Joe Bottini told them. Neither of the central figures in the case against Anderson -- Prewitt and former lobbyist Bill Bobrick -- are "squeaky clean witnesses," Bottini acknowledged. Bobrick has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in the case and has agreed to testify against Anderson. Bobrick came up with a scheme to create a phony company and use it to funnel payments from the private prison firm Cornell Cos. to Anderson, prosecutors assert. Cornell didn't know about the scheme, and after the FBI got involved it provided the payments. PREWITT'S PAST: The other key witness will be Prewitt, whose own flaws the prosecutor discussed at length. Prewitt, who became a consultant to Cornell after leaving his state post, was being investigated for various actions when the FBI confronted him in April 2004, Bottini said. He agreed to help the FBI in its "broad public corruption investigation," the prosecutor said. Anderson is one of four legislators or former legislators indicted in the past seven months. Cornell had been trying for years to open a private prison in Alaska, and Prewitt may have tried to improperly influence a state corrections official regarding it, the prosecutor said. He also was being investigated for a practice in political campaigns known as "conduit contributions" in which someone gives money to other people to pass on to candidates. That is done to bypass campaign contribution limits. Bobrick also was involved in "conduit contributions," Bottini said. In addition, while Prewitt was state corrections commissioner, he accepted $30,000 from a friend who had business with the department, Bottini said. The government has no deal with Prewitt that he won't be charged with any crime in exchange for his help, but certainly he's hoping for a break, the prosecutor said.

June 22, 2007 Juneau Empire
Former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, goes on trial Monday in Anchorage, in a case which may be linked to the ongoing political corruption investigation involving VECO Corp. executives and other state legislators. Also involved, likely without her knowledge, may be Anderson's wife, Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage. Regardless of VECO's involvement, Anderson's attorney has already begun preparing for a trial under increased public scrutiny of political corruption cases. Paul Stockler, an Anchorage attorney representing Anderson, has already asked a federal judge for permission to question potential jurors about how much they know about "this and other well publicized cases." He also wants to be able to ask about what they know about Anderson "or the other well publicized witnesses." The FBI investigation in Alaska, led by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Public Integrity became publicly known in August of 2006. At that time FBI agents served search warrants on the offices of six members of the Alaska Legislature, though not Anderson, as well as VECO and other offices. Three of the six legislators and two top VECO executives have been indicted on corruption charges. The executives have pleaded guilty, while the legislators have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. A series of indictments, guilty pleas and legal maneuverings have kept those VECO-related issues in the news for months. According to documents filed by U.S. attorneys to outline their case, the investigation had been in the works for more than two years before the raids. It was in the summer of 2004 that an unnamed lobbyist with ties to Anderson approached a confidential source working undercover for the FBI with a scheme to bribe Anderson, the documents say. The confidential source's "efforts at the time were directed to other, unrelated investigative matters," the DOJ documents said. It did not specify whether those matters involved VECO. The charges against Anderson accuse him of using his position as a legislator, including the chairmanship of the Administrative Regulations Review, to benefit Cornell Companies, a Texas-based firm which operates private prisons. In Alaska Cornell was seeking state approval to build a private prison and a juvenile psychiatric treatment facility, as well as regulatory changes to help its Alaska operations, which include a string of halfway houses around the state. The court documents allege that Anderson pressured state officials, such as former Department of Corrections Commissioner Mark Antrim, to benefit Cornell. He also advocated for Cornell at a public meeting in Anchorage, but said he was there not on the company's behalf but as chair of the regulatory review committee. Cornell is not accused of any wrongdoing, federal and Cornell officials have previously told the Empire. Prosecutors said they expect to take a week to present their case.

June 19, 2007 KTUU TV
New details are emerging in the government's corruption probe against former state Rep. Tom Anderson as attorneys prepare for his trial Monday. The government has filed a trial brief laying out who is involved, how the pitch was made and the meetings and actions it says Anderson took. Anderson's attorney wouldn't comment on the details, but said he is outraged at the inclusion of what appear to be references to Anderson's wife, Sen. Lesil McGuire. The brief also makes it clear that other, unrelated investigations were underway when the federal government's unnamed source was approached to participate in a bribery scheme. Based on court records and sources close to the investigation, Channel 2 News believes the confidential source who allegedly recorded every move is former lobbyist Frank Prewitt. Prewitt worked for Texas-based Cornell Companies, a private firm looking to open a private prison in Alaska and a juvenile treatment facility in Anchorage. The company also runs halfway houses throughout the state. Anderson is accused of taking money from the government source on behalf of Cornell in exchange for official acts. Another lobbyist, Bill Bobrick, has already entered a guilty plea in connection with the scheme. He is expected to testify at Anderson's trial. In the trial brief, prosecutors cite a recording in which Bobrick tries to convince the informant the scheme was worth the money, suggesting Cornell would have two legislators working for them in Juneau because of Anderson's romantic involvement with another lawmaker. "Cornell would get two legislators," Bobrick is quoted as saying. "You know, chair of labor and commerce, and chair of judiciary ... That's the minimum we're going to have next year." At the time, Anderson was dating Rep. Lesil McGuire, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee. The couple went on to wed during the summer of 2005. In its filing, the government goes on to cite a recorded conversation between an unnamed state representative and the Cornell lobbyist. In it, the representative talks about contacting a state commissioner overseeing regulations Cornell needed help with. "Tom called me on the phone and he said, ‘I don't care what you are doing, I need you to get on the phone right now ...'" states the brief. The representative said Anderson asked for calls to be placed to the lobbyist and the Cornell representative and goes on to say, "I was on the phone because of Tom." During late 2004 and early 2005, Anderson joined subcommittees key to Cornell's interests and, according to the government, pushed Cornell's agendas without disclosing he was being paid. Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler, maintains Anderson's innocence and said they are ready to clear his name at trial. Stockler also added that no allegations have been made against Anchorage Sen. Lesil McGuire, and there is no indication she has done anything inappropriate. There has been no public link between the prison case and other corruption cases, including the VECO bribery claims. However, VECO Corp. and Cornell do have a relationship -- in 2003, VECO and Cornell Companies teamed up on trying to get a private prison built in Whittier.

June 19, 2007 AP
State Rep. Vic Kohring said today he will resign after nearly 13 years of public service so he can concentrate on defending himself against federal bribery and extortion charges. He told The Associated Press that he will leave office July 19. "I take the job as a legislator very seriously, but my life is on the line, so I have chosen to defend myself so I can prevail in court," Kohring said. "It's a very, very ugly decision to have to make, frankly." Kohring said he plans to disclose his decision during a luncheon at the Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce later today, as he previously announced. "The easy route would be not face the people who supported me and not to face those people who oppose me," said Kohring, a Wasilla Republican. "I could just issue a press release and be done with it, but that’s not the right way to do it." Kohring and two former state lawmakers were indicted May 4 on bribery and extortion charges related to alleged dealings with Anchorage- based oil field services company Veco Corp. Also charged were former Republican Reps. Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch. All have pleaded not guilty and have had their original July trial dates pushed back to the fall. Federal prosecutors accuse the lawmakers of selling their votes to Veco officials while they were considering a rewrite of the state’s petroleum production tax, which could have levied a 20 percent tax on profits and a 20 percent credit on capital investments.

June 17, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., heard evidence last month about the expansion of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' Girdwood home in 2000 and other matters connecting Stevens to the oil services company Veco Inc. As the far-reaching federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics spreads to Washington, Stevens family friend and neighbor Bob Persons was ordered to appear before a grand jury in Washington on May 25. The government directed him to produce documents related to the work on Stevens' Girdwood house, especially to work that might have been performed by Veco and contractors who were hired or supervised by Veco. Another close associate of Stevens, Anchorage businessman Bob Penney, testified two weeks ago before the federal grand jury in Anchorage that has been gathering evidence in the corruption cases. The house expansion project, first reported in the Daily News on May 29, more than doubled the size of the home. The Stevenses had asked Persons, who lives above the Double Musky restaurant he owns in Girdwood, to help them oversee the addition while they were in Washington. The existence of the Washington grand jury investigation is the strongest indication to date that Stevens himself has become a subject of the wide-ranging federal probe that surfaced with FBI raids on state legislative offices last August. Former State Sen. Ben Stevens, Ted Stevens' son, was among the legislators whose offices were searched. Ben Stevens has denied wrongdoing. The FBI said at the time that it also had executed a search warrant in Girdwood, among other places, although the location of that search has never been disclosed. VECO GUILTY PLEAS: The investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section has so far led to guilty pleas by former Veco chief executive Bill Allen, former Veco vice president Rick Smith and private-prison lobbyist Bill Bobrick. Four current or former state legislators have been indicted and are awaiting trial on corruption charges, three for taking bribes or attempting to take bribes from Veco, the other for taking bribes from the private prison interest. How the Girdwood home fits in with the broader investigation, or what possible crimes are being investigated, is not clear.

May 29, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
The FBI and a federal grand jury have been investigating an extensive remodeling project at U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' home in Girdwood that involved the top executive of Veco Corp. in the hiring of at least one of the key contractors. Three contractors who worked on the project said in recent interviews with the Daily News that the FBI asked them to turn over their records from the job. One said he was called to testify about the project before a federal grand jury in Anchorage in December. The remodeling work, which more than doubled the size of the house, occurred in the summer and fall of 2000. The four-bedroom home, about two blocks from the day lodge parking lot at the Alyeska ski resort, is Stevens' official residence in Alaska. An old friend of Stevens in Girdwood, longtime Double Musky restaurant owner Bob Persons, has been questioned by the FBI about the project. He monitored the remodeling for Stevens and his wife while they were in Washington, D.C. "I will be testifying. That's all I can tell you," Persons said in a brief interview last week. "It is an ongoing investigation that I'm not supposed to talk to or see anybody about it." Persons would not elaborate on whether he meant that he would testify before a grand jury, at a trial, or both, or for whom. He said he believed Stevens did nothing wrong. Ted Stevens and his wife, Catherine, declined to answer questions about the Girdwood house. In a prepared statement issued by his office, Stevens said: "While I understand the public's interest in the ongoing federal investigation, it has been my long-standing policy to not comment on such matters. Therefore, I will withhold comment at this time to avoid even the appearance that I might influence this investigation." The FBI and the U.S. Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, which are in the midst of a broad investigation of corruption in Alaska, would not comment. "This is a pending investigation and we're just not going to confirm or deny any aspect, any rumors, any allegations out there," said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez.

May 7, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Allen, a welder who took the Veco Corp. from a small Kenai oil-field company to a billion-dollar international contractor and a major political force, pleaded guilty Monday to bribing at least four Alaska legislators, including former Senate President Ben Stevens. In a plea bargain with the U.S.Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, Allen and Rick Smith, Veco’s vice president for community and government affairs, each pleaded guilty to three identical felony charges — bribery and two counts of conspiracy. Both men accepted responsibility for making more than $400,000 in illegal payments and benefits to public officials or their families. More than half the money went to Stevens in the form of phony “consulting” fees, the government charged. Stevens, son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, has not been charged. He was named in the plea documents as “State Senator B,” but his identity was unmistakable. In return for special consideration at sentencing, Allen, 70, and Smith, 62, agreed to cooperate in the ongoing federal investigation. The government also promised to not seek charges against Allen’s son Mark, a Veco official, his daughter Tammy Kerrigan, or any other relative. The federal plea bargain doesn’t bar state prosecutors from seeking additional charges against Allen and Smith. Both men acknowledged violating state campaign finance laws in their plea. The plea deals were formalized in secret last week and opened in U.S. District Court Monday morning in unannounced back-to-back hearings before Judge John Sedwick, each lasting about 40 minutes.

May 6, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
The chairman of a key state House committee was deposed and Alaska's most important oil tax law fell under new scrutiny Saturday as lawmakers reacted to the arrest of one current and two former legislators on federal corruption charges. Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, will lose his chairmanship of the Special Committee on Oil and Gas, House leaders said. Kohring was charged with selling his vote on oil taxes last year to oil field services company Veco. The House committee had an important early role in shaping gas pipeline legislation this year. Republican majority leaders placed Kohring in charge of the committee this session, even though he was one of six legislators whose offices were raided by the FBI in a Veco-related probe last fall. Kohring appeared before a federal magistrate Friday in handcuffs to face charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. Also appearing were two Republican colleagues from last year's legislative session, Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau. All three pleaded not guilty. In detailed indictments, the three were charged with selling their votes and influence over other legislators for money and jobs during the 2006 legislative session. The legislation in question was an overhaul of the state's oil production tax, which pays for most of state government and adds to the Alaska Permanent Fund. Veco wanted to keep the oil tax low and also was pressing for construction of a gas pipeline from which it would profit, according to the indictment.

May 5, 2007 Alaska Daily News
Three more state legislators were arrested on federal corruption charges Friday, accused of selling their votes and influence to the oil field services company Veco Corp. and its chief executive, Bill Allen, during last year’s debate on oil taxes. Acting on felony indictments brought by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, federal agents arrested the three Republicans in Juneau — one a sitting legislator, Rep. Vic Kohring of Wasilla, and two others who left office in January, Reps. Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau. Each was brought in handcuffs before a federal magistrate judge, and each pleaded not guilty to bribery, extortion and conspiracy and was released on $20,000 bond. The charges carry penalties of between five and 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The indictments, unsealed with the arrests, describe a conspiracy among the legislators, Veco, Allen and Veco's vice president for government affairs, Rick Smith, to steer an oil-production tax bill favored by the industry through the Legislature last year. The bill was seen as a prerequisite for the North Slope oil producers to agree to build a natural gas pipeline. Ultimately, Veco, Allen and Smith wanted to see a gas line built that would help the company through contracts with the oil companies, the indictments charged. Veco, Allen and Smith were neither charged nor directly named in the indictments. But “Company A,” “Company CEO” and “Company VP” are described in long passages in the indictments, and those descriptions point unmistakably to them. Veco’s attorney, Amy Menard, confirmed the identifications. Allen’s lawyer, Bob Bundy of Anchorage, wouldn’t comment on what might be in store for his client. “Veco and Bill have cooperated completely with the government’s investigation,” Bundy said. WADS OF CASH The charges describe the three lawmakers seeking money, jobs or both for themselves or family members, and Veco willing to oblige. Much of the activity described in the charges took place in Veco’s suite in Juneau’s Baranof Hotel, Room 604, during the 2006 legislative session. Direct quotes attributed in the indictments to the three legislators and to Allen and Smith suggest the FBI conducted some form of electronic surveillance in the room and perhaps on telephones as well. Kott’s lawyer, Jim Wendt, said the room contained a hidden camera. He learned about the surveillance when the prosecutors offered to make a deal with him. They revealed snippets of their evidence, including video from inside a Baranof room, Wendt said. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez wouldn’t confirm whether agents used wiretaps or hidden cameras. A Baranof employee on Friday said the hotel would not discuss the use of the suite.

May 4, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Former Alaska state legislators Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch have been indicted by a federal grand jury on several counts of extortion, bribery, wire fraud and mail fraud. Kott was arrested at home in Juneau around 9 a.m. Friday, a spokesman for the FBI said. Weyhrauch was arrested later in the morning. Both are being held in the federal courthouse in Juneau. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez would not say if additional arrests are coming. "It’s a continuing investigation," he said. Some of the charges against Kott and Weyhrauch involve the Legislature’s consideration last year of a natural gas pipeline and a petroleum production tax proposed by former Gov. Frank Murkowski. Kott, a former House speaker from Eagle River, is accused of seeking and accepting bribes to push positions favored by executives of a company that is not named in the indictment. Weyhrauch traded votes for the promise of a job, according to the charges. The company is referred to throughout the indictment as "Company A" and is described as a privately owned company that "provided services to the energy, resources and process industries" and "took an active interest" in the Legislature. The indictment also refers to a prison in Barbados the company was constructing. That description matches Veco Inc., a huge Anchorage-based oil-field services company that has been active in lobbying the Legislature for years. Kott lost his Eagle River seat in the state House in last year’s Republican primary. Weyhrauch, an attorney, did not seek re-election to his House seat representing Juneau. Both left office in January. Both were among the six lawmakers whose offices were raided by federal agents in August as part of an investigation into corruption. Kott was scheduled to be arraigned in Juneau at 1:30 p.m. today. The indictment covers a period from September 2005 until the end of August 2006. The Legislature considered the pipeline and oil tax proposals during regular and special sessions during that time. Lawmakers in both political parties reacted to the indictment today with disgust.

April 17, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
High up in City Hall on Friday, the Anchorage Assembly talked for hours about road projects and budgets and the kind of things you usually don't sit through unless you're paid to be there. Listening from the back of the room was lobbyist Bill Bobrick. Four months after Bobrick was linked to a federal bribery case that led to the indictment of Anchorage state Rep. Tom Anderson, he remains one of the busier lobbyists of the city. He's got to earn a living, he says to friends and acquaintances. He also tells them his role in the bribery case is about to get bigger. "My understanding, real clear, is that Bobrick's going to go in and plead guilty here real quick to a felony," said Assemblyman Dan Coffey. Coffey said Bobrick told him just that after a late March town hall meeting at a local school. Mayor Mark Begich, who was best man at Bobrick's wedding in 1998 and has known him for more than 20 years, said the longtime city lobbyist told him something less precise: "He told me he was going to plead. I don't know what that means. And honestly, I didn't dive into it. That's an issue that, again, doesn't relate to the city." Bobrick hasn't been charged with a crime. He fits the description of an unnamed conspirator described in the indictment of Anderson, who is accused of money laundering, bribery and extortion. Public records show Bobrick as owner of a company that federal prosecutors say was set up to funnel Anderson bribes. In exchange, Anderson helped promote in the Legislature a private prison and juvenile treatment facility, the indictment says. Anderson left office when his term expired in January. Bobrick declined to be interviewed for this story.

January 14, 2007 Juneau Empire
Federal prosecutors who accused Rep. Tom Anderson of bribery and other crimes say he also used another, unidentified legislator to carry out illegal acts. While Anderson was advocating for Cornell Companies, a Texas-based developer of private prisons, he also tried help Cornell win approval for a juvenile mental-health treatment center in Alaska. To do that, he got another legislator to try to pressure the state Department of Health and Social Services to grant a certificate of need for Cornell's project, according to the Anderson indictment. In competition with Cornell was North Star Behavioral Health Systems, an Alaska nonprofit that already had operations in Anchorage and Palmer. It was supported by a number of influential legislators, including Senate Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, and Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, president-elect of the Senate. The indictment says Anderson, an Anchorage Republican, prevailed upon an "elected public official" to lobby for the certificate. Documents obtained by the Empire show that Kohring was the only legislator who wrote a letter in support of the certificate during the time frame described in the indictment. Kohring did not return repeated phone calls last week. In Kohring's letter to Health and Human Services officials, he wrote, "It has come to my attention" that Cornell was seeking a certificate of need for its project, but he didn't say how it had come to his attention. Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler, denied that the unnamed elected official was Kohring. The only other letter to the state on behalf of the certificate was written by Rep. John Harris, now speaker of the House of Representatives. Harris said he did not recall how his letter came to be written. "I write letters for a lot of people," he said. Harris said he didn't recall talking with Anderson about the matter. "He and I were never close," Harris said. Prosecutors say in the indictment that they have tape recordings of Anderson and the "elected public official." In them, the official allegedly confirms that he contacted the department commissioner at Anderson's request. Anderson already had been pushing Cornell projects. Bringing in six-term representative Kohring or Harris, then the Finance Committee chairman, may have increased Cornell's chances. The company dropped the project, however.

January 9, 2007 Anchorage Daily News
Indicted state legislator Tom Anderson wants to delay the start of his trial so his lawyer can better prepare. In a court motion filed Friday, Anderson's attorney, Paul Stockler, wrote that he is still working his way through 20 discs "which contain hours of audio and video recordings involving the defendant taken over an extended period of time." The trial is now scheduled for Feb. 12, and Stockler said he wants to delay it until April 23. The three-page motion provides the first mention of video recordings in the FBI corruption investigation of Anderson and other legislators. Anderson was indicted by a federal grand jury in December on seven felony counts including money laundering, extortion and bribery. The indictment contains a number of references to recorded conversations between Anderson and two others: a local-government lobbyist for a private corrections company and a confidential source who had worked for the same company. The indictment doesn't specify whether any of the recordings were on video. The indictment describes a conspiracy that began in July 2004 in which the lobbyist set up a shell company that existed to launder money to Anderson. The FBI gave money to the informant, who passed it on to Anderson and the lobbyist in exchange for Anderson pushing the interests of the corrections company. Anderson received less than $13,000, according to the indictment. Anderson has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

December 25, 2006 Juneau Empire
In 2004, a privately owned Texas prison firm had a problem in Alaska. Its chain of halfway houses that took in prisoners under contract with the state Corrections Department was struggling. It had facilities in Fairbanks, Bethel, Nome and several Anchorage locations. Low occupancy rates were hurting profits, especially in Anchorage. Cornell Companies, the Houston-based owner of the facilities, also had some top lobbyists on their payroll, including a former commissioner of corrections for the state. Also on its payroll was a key state legislator, Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The lobbyists' affiliation was legal, but Anderson's wasn't, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court for Alaska earlier this month. Anderson was arrested Dec. 7 on charges of bribery, extortion and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted on all counts, he faces a possible sentence of 20 years or more in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Anderson was unavailable for comment for this article. On federal wiretaps, two Cornell lobbyists were heard discussing efforts to bribe Anderson, who they said was willing to be "our boy in Juneau" in exchange for cash payments, according to the Department of Justice indictment. Cornell, whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, reported revenues of $346 million last year. It was not identified in the indictment. Company spokeswoman Christine Taylor confirmed the company had been notified of the Anderson investigation by the Department of Justice. "We've been notified of the indictment, but no wrongdoing has been alleged," she said. The indictment said the company was unaware of the actions of its lobbyists. A confidential FBI source had at various times been a lobbyist for the company. He used funds provided by the FBI, not the company, for the bribes. He didn't notify Cornell because of "the undercover nature of the operation," the Justice Department said. "The corrections company was not implicated in the corrupt activities that are alleged in the indictment," according to the Department of Justice press release announcing the arrest. Tom Anderson: Anderson worked unsuccessfully to help Cornell expand its private prison and juvenile detention operations into Alaska but was more successful helping out the company's halfway houses. That effort, not previously reported, is detailed in the indictment and in Alaska Department of Corrections documents obtained under the state Public Records Act. When Cornell's halfway houses were struggling, the company lobbyist approached Anderson, who allegedly agreed to try to influence the Department of Corrections. In exchange, Anderson apparently received thousands of dollars in cash from the lobbyist. On Oct. 20, 2004, Anderson wrote a letter to then-Corrections Commissioner Marc Antrim, urging more use of the halfway houses and requesting a personal meeting. "Since private contractors only get paid for occupied beds, severe underutilization creates serious budget challenges when beds are left empty," Anderson wrote to Antrim on legislative letterhead. In the letter, Anderson also noted that he was a member of the House Finance Committee's Corrections Subcommittee. The indictment alleges that a lobbyist wrote the letter for Anderson. On. Oct. 29, 2004, Antrim met with Anderson, Department of Corrections records show. What happened in the meeting? "I'm not able to comment on that," Antrim said in a phone call to his Juneau home. He is no longer with the department. Antrim declined to say why he could not comment. There are no indications that Antrim is under investigation. However, prosecutors sometimes ask potential witnesses not to speak publicly about matters that might come up in court. Federal investigators obtained bank records showing that a Cornell lobbyist on Oct. 21, 2004, wrote a check to Anderson's consulting business from Pacific Publishing, a company created by another Cornell lobbyist. The check was purportedly for writing public policy articles for a Pacific Publishing Web site. The indictment alleges that there was no web site and that the money was laundered through Pacific Publishing to deceive the Alaska Public Offices Commission. On the wiretaps, Anderson was overheard acknowledging to the lobbyist that that payment and others were "not really for your Web thing," the indictment states. The Department of Justice called Pacific Publishing a "sham corporation" formed for the sole purpose of disguising bribe money. In the 2004 fiscal year, Cornell received $12.1 million in state payments for its halfway houses, $12.3 in 2005 and $12.4 in 2006, according to Richard Schmitz, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. Alaska state law bars a legislator from accepting money in exchange for official acts, but courts have found the state Constitution's free speech provisions make prosecuting legislators for such actions difficult. Anderson has been charged under federal law, however. Federal investigators continued their investigation of Anderson for more than two years after the Cornell lobbyist investigation, during which time Anderson was re-elected to the House of Representatives. The U.S. Attorney for Alaska did not say why it took so long to indict Anderson. Anderson chose not to run for re-election this year and leaves office in January after serving two terms in the House.

December 9, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
State Rep. Tom Anderson pleaded not guilty Friday to a series of federal charges accusing him of selling his legislative office for $12,828 in bribes from a lobbyist representing private prison interests. Anderson, a 39-year-old Republican who has represented Muldoon's District 19 since he was elected in 2002, was ordered freed Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Roberts on an unsecured $10,000 bond after his arrest Thursday by FBI agents. Roberts said Anderson could travel to Mexico on a previously scheduled vacation next week with his wife, Republican state Rep. Lesil McGuire, who was elected to the state Senate in November, and their infant son. The 18-page indictment against Anderson said the lobbyist was secretly recorded July 21, 2004, boasting that for a price, Anderson would be "our boy in Juneau." A week later, the same lobbyist was recorded telling a confidential informant, "If I was a Soviet spy and I was looking for a legislator to recruit, (Anderson) would be the one I'd get." Anderson "needs the money," the lobbyist said. The government didn't charge the lobbyist. He is identified only by the letter "A," but the facts in the case point to Bill Bobrick of Anchorage, who represented Cornell Companies, a private prison firm Outside. Bobrick didn't return messages left on his home and cell phones Friday, and his business number wasn't working. On Thursday, before Anderson's arrest, Bobrick said in an interview that he was getting out of the lobbying business and was in the process of handing off his clients. He cited "health issues" as the reason. Anderson, who did not seek re-election this year and formally leaves office next month, is the first legislator charged with corruption in office since two state senators faced charges in the early 1980s. One, George Hohman, was convicted of bribery in 1981, while the other, Ed Dankworth, successfully appealed his 1982 conflict-of-interest charges and never faced trial. Anderson's seven-count indictment accuses him of going into league with Lobbyist A to promote a private prison somewhere in Alaska and a private juvenile treatment facility in Anchorage. In return for the money, it said Anderson got himself appointed to legislative committees with jurisdiction over prisons and treatment, lobbied other elected officials, agreed to align his votes with the correction company's interests, wrote letters and publicly spoke on behalf of company projects. Anderson disguised the source of the money in his reports to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the indictment charged. A second private prison advocate secretly worked with the government to record conversations of the lobbyist and Anderson. The informant, identified only as "CS-1," used money provided by the FBI in the payoffs. The private prison company was identified only as "Corrections Company" in the charges, but the facts squarely match Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston, Texas, a publicly traded corporation with facilities in 17 states. Cornell operates six halfway houses in Alaska from its buyout of Anchorage-based Allvest Corp. With partners Veco and Allvest founder Bill Weimer, Cornell failed to win public support for private prison proposals in Anchorage, Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The proposals were all highly controversial in the communities, though they often sailed through legislative committees. During a House Finance Committee hearing May 9, 2004, Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, said the effort was corrupting the state. "What I see, over and over, is repeated sole-source, pre-arranged, heavy-money deals that go to specific contractors. ... It's never been a clean, competitive proposal," Croft said at the time, the only member of the committee to object. "We are going to see somebody indicted and probably imprisoned over this series of proposals." A prepared statement from the Justice Department released Friday said the corrections company was never told about the payments to Anderson "due to the undercover nature of the operation." It said the company "was not implicated in the corrupt activities that are alleged in the indictment." Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for Cornell in Houston, said, "There's nothing that we knew of, or were aware of, until this indictment was issued." Anderson arrived for his arraignment in federal court Friday wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit with the word "PRISONER" across his back. His legs were shackled as he rose for the judge alongside his defense attorney, Jeffrey Feldman of Anchorage. The hearing lasted 19 minutes. His trial was set for Feb. 12. If the government was making a point to other potential defendants in its ongoing investigation into corruption, the message was tough. Nicholas Marsh, a trial attorney from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., told the court the charges carried penalties ranging from a maximum of five years and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to a maximum of 20 years and $500,000 for each of three money laundering charges. Anderson was also accused of two counts of extortion (20 years and $250,000) and one count of bribery (10 years and $250,000). The activities alleged in the indictment took place long before the coordinated raids of Aug. 31, when the FBI searched the offices of 10 percent of the 60-member Legislature. Anderson's office wasn't among them, and it's unclear how his case is related. Marsh, assistant U.S. attorney Joseph Bottini and FBI agent Mary Beth Kepner, a leader of the corruption probe, left quickly after the arraignment and declined to answer questions. The conspiracy alleged in the indictment began in July 2004 and continued through the following March. It said that Lobbyist A set up a shell company called Pacific Publishing that existed solely to launder money to Anderson. The company would pay Anderson to write articles about politics that would be published on its Web site, but Anderson was paid without ever scribbling a line. CS-1 paid Lobbyist A $24,000 in three payments. The cover story was that the money was for advertising on the Web site, but they agreed the money was really for Anderson's pocket, with "A" taking a sizable cut. The indictment said CS-1 had worked for the corrections company as a lobbyist "at various times." The identity closely matches Frank Prewitt, a former Alaska corrections commissioner appointed by Gov. Wally Hickel and who later went to work for Cornell. In an e-mail exchange with the Daily News on Friday, Prewitt suggested he was the source, though he stopped short of confirming it. "At this time it is inappropriate for me to talk about the voluntary role that I and others may have played in the Anderson investigation," Prewitt wrote. "Over the next year I believe you will find that this was only the beginning of the end of a sad, but healthy chapter in Alaska history. My prayers are with Representative Anderson and his family during this difficult time for all." The first recorded conversation cited in the indictment occurred July 16, 2004, when the lobbyist suggested to the confidential source that they "try with (Cornell) to help out Tom Anderson." Five days later, the lobbyist told the source that Cornell should hire Anderson through him. Rather than report Cornell, with its interest in legislation and other government action, as the source of the money, Anderson said he was paid for writing for the Pacific Publishing Web site. Anderson himself was recorded Aug. 17, 2004, telling the confidential source: "APOC only needs to know (Bobrick) pays me and then we're all safe." The source paid the lobbyist the first $8,000 Aug. 19, 2004, the indictment charged. Out of that, Anderson received $3,328, which he deposited Aug. 23 into the account of his personal consulting firm, Alaska Strategic Consultants. In a recorded call Oct. 20, 2004, the source told Anderson he had prepared the next $8,000 payment and planned to pass it on to the lobbyist. "Awesome. Awesome. I appreciate it," Anderson is quoted as saying. Anderson received a $3,500 advance from that payment, the indictment charged. The source made his last $8,000 payment on Dec. 21, 2004. Anderson got $4,000. But late in the scheme, the indictment alleged, Anderson was showing signs of unhappiness over splitting the money with the lobbyist. According to excerpts of recordings, the confidential source appeared at first to encourage the disaffection, saying it wasn't the lobbyist who was speaking out and voting for Cornell, but rather Anderson. "I know," Anderson said. But then the source suggested the lobbyist might become "estranged" if he were cut out of the deal. The source thought that he could make a separate payment direct to Anderson. "If there's a way you can think of that, that would be nice," Anderson replied. The source obliged, handing Anderson a $2,000 check Dec. 21, 2004. The indictment said the check was made payable to Tom Anderson.

December 8, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
A federal grand jury has indicted an Alaska lawmaker on charges of extortion, conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering, federal officials said Friday. A seven-count indictment was returned against state Rep. Thomas T. Anderson, R-Anchorage, on Wednesday, assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said. Anderson was arrested Thursday, and was being held at the city jail. The indictment charges Anderson with two counts of extortion, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy, and three counts of money laundering in connection with the use of a sham corporation to hide the identity of the bribery payments, Fisher said in a prepared statement. The indictment also alleges that Anderson solicited and received money from an FBI confidential source in exchange for Anderson's agreement to perform official acts to further a business interest represented by the confidential source. The indictment alleges from July 2004 to March 2005, Anderson and an individual described in only as "Lobbyist A" solicited and received $26,000 in payments from an FBI confidential source in exchange for Anderson's agreement to act on his behalf in the legislature, according to the statement released from the U.S. Department of Justice. Anderson and the unnamed lobbyist created a sham corporation to conceal the existence and origin of the payments, and used the corporation to funnel a portion of the $26,000 to Anderson, the indictment says. The FBI's source was a consultant for a private corrections company located outside the state of Alaska, and Anderson and the lobbyist initiated contact with that confidential source in order to solicit bribery payments, the indictment alleges. The source, however, never communicated any information to the corrections company due to the undercover nature of the operation. The corrections company was not implicated, federal officials said. If convicted, Anderson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine on the extortion counts; a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $500,000 fine on each of the money laundering counts; a maximum penalty of 10 years and a $250,000 fine on the bribery count; and a maximum penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy count. Anderson was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph W. Bottini said. It was not immediately known if he had hired a lawyer. Anderson is married to former state Rep. and now state Sen.-elect Lesil McGuire, who did not return messages left on her cells phones Friday. Anderson, who was elected to the state House four years ago, did not seek re-election. He leaves office this month.

October 9, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
When FBI agents searched the Wasilla office of Rep. Vic Kohring on Aug. 31, they weren't just looking for documents related to Veco Corp., its executives and ties to lawmakers. They also wanted information about developer Marc Marlow as well as the state Department of Corrections. That element of the ongoing FBI investigation emerged last week when Kohring's attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross, provided a copy of the search warrant to the Daily News, along with the list of items taken. Those documents, though lacking detail or context, suggest that the probe is wide-ranging and not focused on any one company, issue or individual. No one has been charged in the investigation, and federal authorities have declined to discuss it except to say that it continues. The lead prosecutors are from the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which often handles government corruption cases. In all, offices of six lawmakers have been searched, along with Veco offices and additional undisclosed locations. Other lawmakers whose offices weren't searched have said they were interviewed by the FBI. The warrant also sought all correspondence between Kohring and the Alaska Department of Corrections. Ross said Kohring was questioned by the FBI about efforts to build a private prison in Whittier. "He indicated it was a facility that Cornell was hoping to build in the past and that's apparently all they asked about that," Ross said. Cornell Cos. had teamed with Veco in the private prison endeavor, which ultimately died last year after the city of Whittier dropped its support. Along with those of Kohring and Stevens, FBI agents searched offices of Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage; Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome; Rep. Pete Kott, R-Eagle River; and Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R- Juneau. Messages left for them were not returned. Kohring is the only one of the six still facing an election battle in November. Kott lost in the primary, Stevens and Weyhrauch aren't running again and the others aren't up this year. What's known: • Dozens of FBI agents executed about two dozen search warrants Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, though in some cases individuals agreed to the search. • Six legislative offices were searched, and so was Veco Corp. Searches were conducted in Anchorage, Juneau, Eagle River, Wasilla, Willow and Girdwood. The office of Senate President Ben Stevens was then searched a second time, on Sept. 18. • One search warrant, provided by Sen. Donny Olson, said the FBI was looking for "any and all documents" related to Veco, four of its executives and two political pollsters, as well as information on Olson Air Service, among other matters. When agents searched Stevens' office, they seized materials related to controversial fisheries organizations. In the search of Rep. Vic Kohring's office, agents also sought information on developer Marc Marlow and on the state Department of Corrections. • The lead prosecutors on the case are from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which handles public corruption cases. • No one has been charged. What's not known: • Perhaps the biggest of the many unanswered questions is this: Who or what is being targeted? • Authorities also won't say how many FBI agents or prosecutors are working on the investigation, when it began, when it might end or how they are proceeding.

September 29, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
Six executives for the Veco Corp., the company named in the federal investigation into political corruption in Alaska, donated at least $119,000 to the campaigns of candidates running for more than half the seats open in this year's primary election. The total might have still been climbing had not the FBI raided the company's corporate headquarters and the offices of at least a half-dozen state lawmakers two months before the Nov. 7 election. Veco's total in this election cycle is a little more than half the $200,000 its executives generated for legislative races in 2004, but Veco money has suddenly become unwanted across most of the political spectrum. Scores of Alaskans are regular and generous contributors to political candidates, year after year. Developers, construction company owners, doctors, lawyers, business owners, oil and gas executives, retirees. Many give the candidates of their choice the maximum amounts available in a given year -- $1,000 annually since 2003; $500 annually starting next year under an initiative passed by voters in August. Veco's six executive contributors -- chairman Bill Allen, president Peter Leathard, chief financial officer Roger Chan, vice president Rick Smith, information officer Thomas Corkran and personnel manager James Slack -- regularly donate to a similar list of candidates, usually in the same $500 amounts and with checks dated within a few days of each other. As is usually the case, almost all the Veco money donated to candidates this year and during the 2005 interim year went to Republicans, and the vast majority to incumbents.

September 24, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
Last month, state Rep. Tom Anderson testified before the Anchorage Assembly in favor of Wal-Mart's plan for two stores in his old neighborhood. Assembly chairman Dan Sullivan introduced him as Representative Anderson, but the lawmaker for Muldoon corrected him. He was there representing the home builders association, Anderson said. Anderson, who was a consultant before he was elected to the state House four years ago, has never stopped making money on the side as a paid adviser for clients who do business with state and local government. His dual role may have surprised the Assembly in August. But it would not have surprised some members of the Northeast Community Council, the neighborhood group that opposed the stores. They recall seeing Anderson at their meetings all though 2003. They assumed he was there as the local state legislator. But Anderson's state financial disclosure form, filed the following year, revealed he was also working as a $10,000 consultant on community councils and local government for the oil field services and construction company Veco. "We are all going, 'This is so bogus,' " said council president Peggy Robinson, who publicized Anderson's Veco connection in an unsuccessful bid to topple Anderson from his House seat in 2004. Now Anderson's role as a consultant to industry is coming under scrutiny again, following last month's FBI searches of six legislative offices seeking information on legislators' links to Veco. A rule insisting on proper qualifications would probably have done little to crimp Veco's employment of legislators. Stevens and Anderson were both consultants before they ran for office. Arrangements between Veco and two other lawmakers show up in state disclosure forms dating back to 2002. One was for a boat rental from a fisherman, one was for legal work from a lawyer. In 2002, Veco paid $17,600 to use a boat owned by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer. The contract came in the summer before Seaton, a commercial fisherman who owns several boats, was first elected. He said his fish tender just happened to be available in upper Cook Inlet when Veco needed a standby safety vessel during a short oil rig construction job. The legal payments went to then-Sen. Robin Taylor, who got into a jam with critics in his home town of Wrangell over that work. Taylor, a lawyer and longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reported being paid $15,700 for legal work by Veco in 2000, $19,300 in 2001 and $16,800 in 2002. He also served as city attorney for Wrangell during that period. Critics accused Taylor of hiding his Veco ties when the city council considered taking up a private prison project in 2001. Veco had been part of the consortium whose prison plan had just been turned down in Kenai. Taylor insisted he had disclosed his Veco ties on state forms and didn't need to announce them. Taylor retired from the Senate and his private legal practice in 2003 and is now head of the state marine highway system. He was among the current and former legislators known to have been interviewed by the FBI in the current investigation. Taylor said last week that he had never been lobbied by Veco over the prison. As far as he knew, he said, Veco wasn't interested in a Wrangell prison. "It's a breach of attorney-client privilege, but I can tell you up front: That client never talked to me once about that project," Taylor said.

September 7, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
For two decades, oil man and political financier Bill Allen has been a familiar presence in the halls of the Alaska Capitol. But toward the end of this year's regular legislative session, the Veco chief executive may have taken that familiarity a step too far. Allen was watching the state House debate oil taxes on the next-to-last night of business in May when he began passing notes to legislators across the railing of the small spectator gallery, according to Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage. Rules say the public can pass notes through the front door to be delivered by a page. Direct engagement from the visitor gallery is forbidden once the speaker's gavel sounds. Crawford said he saw Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, carry several notes from Allen to other legislators. Anderson has received Veco campaign contributions and has also reported $30,000 in consulting contracts with the company since 2003. Several other legislators say their staff observed similar goings-on. "He was definitely directing traffic back there," Crawford said of Allen. Veco's role in Alaska's political process is under intense scrutiny now. Last week the FBI served search warrants on legislative offices and others seeking a wide range of information related to Allen and other Veco executives, including gifts to public officials. But much of Veco's influence, dating from the early 1980s, comes from sources in plain sight. This includes close to $1 million in state and federal campaign contributions over the past decade as well as consulting contracts with individual legislators. Veco's presence in Juneau is distinctive not just for its role in helping finance many campaigns but for the personal role played by Allen and several other company executives. Veco has hired top-drawer professional lobbyists in the past, as it did while pushing for a private prison between 1996 and 2002. But Allen, 69, is known for taking a personal hand in promoting his priorities, in a manner often described as gentlemanly rather than bullying. In 1996, the Legislature added a new twist -- anyone registering as a lobbyist was barred from giving campaign contributions outside his or her home district. The idea was to prevent favor-seeking lobbyists from working a building full of people they'd given money to. Allen spent a lot of time in the Capitol in 2002, pressing the Legislature to pay for a private prison in Whittier (Veco was teamed with a national prison company, Cornell, to build the project) and to authorize a property tax break for construction of a North Slope natural gas pipeline. Allen was in the Capitol so much that APOC ordered him to register as a lobbyist. Allen protested, saying business owners looking out for their own interests should not be treated like professional lobbyists who represent a variety of clients. Allen eventually complied, registering for 2002 and 2003 and reporting his hourly wage as $156.25. That meant he had to forgo writing campaign checks in those years. (Not that candidates were starved for Veco money: Other company officials gave more than $200,000 to state candidates in 2002 alone.)

September 1, 2006 Alaska Report
The FBI served four more search warrants today in its investigation of the relationship between lawmakers and oilfield services company VECO Corporation, an Anchorage-based oil field services and construction company whose executives are major contributors to political campaigns. Bill Allen, owner of VECO, and his firm, were involved in a renovation of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' chalet in Girdwood in the recent past. The Associated Press is reporting that the search warrants seek "from the period of October 2005 to the present, any and all documents concerning, reflecting or relating to proposed legislation in the state of Alaska involving either the creation of a natural gas pipeline or the petroleum production tax." An Anchorage FBI spokesman says that about two dozen search warrants have been executed so far, including three today in Anchorage and one in Willow. No arrests have been made as of yet. AlaskaReport has learned that a staffer in one of the offices raided has been providing information to federal authorities. In an interview with KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Wev Shea, a former U.S. attorney for Alaska says he knows who created the climate that he alleges allowed corruption to flourish. "The Republican Party is going to rue the day in this state for allowing Randy Ruedrich (chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska) to remain as a chair. He's bringing this party down and it's bad." KTUU also interviewed Rep. Eric Croft. He says he saw this coming two years ago, during a legislative committee meeting concerning VECO’s pitch for a sole-source contract award for a private prison. "I said at the time, in 2004, on the Whittier proposal, someone's going to jail over this 'cause I could see how corrupt the process was," said Croft, D-Anchorage.

August 31, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
Federal agents swarmed legislative offices around the state Thursday, executing search warrants in a coordinated series of raids that appeared to target the longstanding relationship between the oil-field service company Veco and leading lawmakers. Above Anchorage’s 4th Avenue, FBI agents spent most of the afternoon behind the closed doors and drawn blinds of the fifth-floor offices of Senate President Ben Stevens and Senate Rules Committee Chairman John Cowdery, both Anchorage Republicans. Through slits in the blinds, one agent in Stevens’ office, wearing rubber gloves, could be seen packing away evidence in a container. In Juneau, tourists and residents were greeted with the extraordinary sight of FBI agents hauling out files form the Alaska State Capitol after searching offices there. After the FBI searched his Wasilla office and questioned him, Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, the chairman of the House Special Committee on Oil & Gas, said the investigation was focused on Veco. Other legislative offices known to have been searched Thursday included those of Reps. Pete Kott of Eagle River and Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau, and Sen. Donny Olson of Nome. Kott, a former House speaker, and Weyhrauch are Republicans. Olson is the only Democrat in the group. FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said federal agents executed about 20 search warrants Thursday, not all in legislative offices. The warrants were executed in Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, Eagle River and Girdwood, he said. Ray Metcalfe, a former legislator and the founder of the independent Republican Moderate Party, said he has been trying to get the authorities interested in what he described as the “corrupt” relationship between Veco and the Republican-lead legislature, principally Ben Stevens. “I put all the stuff in front of federal prosecutors a year and a half ago,” Metcalfe said Thursday, clearly relishing the turn of events. “I laid hundreds of pages of detailed information alleging bribery, and I distributed it to federal authorities, I distributed it to the U.S. Attorney’s office, I distributed it to the (state attorney general’s) Office of Special Prosecutions, and we held a demonstration in front of the attorney general’s office that hardly anyone showed up for.” Metcalfe attempted to initiate a recall campaign against Stevens, but his effort was rejected by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman on legal grounds. After first announcing he’d run for re-election in November, Stevens changed his mind in June and opted to retire. Tamara Cook, a lawyer who heads the nonpartisan legal services division of the Legislature, said Thursday evening that she reviewed a couple of the search warrants at the request of legislators or aides upon whom they were served. The search warrants allowed the FBI to search computers and office files including financial records, she said. The warrants named Veco Corp., she said, but could not say whether Veco was a target or whether the investigation concerned oil taxes, its failed push to build a private prison in Alaska or something else.

June 11, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
The response of Paul Doucette, the executive director of the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations, complaining about the building of a state prison in Mat-Su is somewhat ironic. For seven years, Cornell Corrections, which had Mr. Doucette as its vice president, labored mightily to stop the state from building a state-operated prison in Mat-Su as it tried to foist off its own low-paying, dangerous Rent-a-Pen proposals in Wrangell, Sitka, Ketchikan, Kenai, Delta Junction, Nome, Houston, Sutton and finally Whittier. Democrats and good-government Republicans defeated their immensely expensive lobbying efforts year after year, despite the dough Cornell shoveled toward its efforts. This is all a matter of extensive record. Now Doucette is complaining about the state closing one of Cornell's halfway houses in Anchorage. The Department of Corrections is exploring far less expensive options such as ankle bracelets to track those released conditionally or those less dangerous who are diverted from prison in the first place. Doucette and APCTO are little more than the public-relations arm of the for-profit prison industry, and their bleatings and Tobacco Institute-type research should be given the credibility they deserve: zero.  --- Frank Smith, Private Corrections Institute, Bluff City, Kan.

February 10, 2005 Anchorage Daily News
The governor is asking lawmakers for $116 million to cover this year's rising costs of public services, including medical care for the poor and elderly, fuel for state ferries and buildings, and fighting last summer's wildfires. An increase in the contract rate for housing state inmates at a private prison in Arizona means the Department of Corrections needs $2.3 million to cover its higher costs this year, Frasca said. The daily rate went up 8 percent, from $52.93 to $57.15 per inmate, said Richard Schmitz, spokesman for the department. Alaska pays to house about 750 inmates at the prison, he said.

October 16, 2004 Salon
In any other election year, Alaska's conservative electorate could be expected to chill Democratic hopes of taking over a United States Senate seat held by a Republican incumbent. Republicans hold every statewide elected office, enjoying a powerful base of support from the dominant energy, fishery and development industries, as well as an ideological advantage among the state's many gun-toting libertarians and fundamentalist Christians.
But this year is not like any other election year in Alaska, principally because of what may well turn out to be a fateful mistake by Gov. Frank Murkowski when he ascended to his current office from the Senate two years ago. In an act of hubris that outraged critics across the political spectrum, the new governor appointed his daughter Lisa Murkoswki to succeed him in the Senate. In the Murkowski political clan, the father has become the daughter's weighty albatross, and vice versa. For the past several months, the governor and the senator have assiduously (and somewhat oddly) avoided public appearances together. For obvious reasons they would prefer not to remind anybody that they're related, at least not until after Election Day. Amazingly, the official biography on her Web site neglects to mention the existence of her father, the governor. But the most generous donors to Murkowski's Senate campaign seem well aware of her filial relationship to Alaska's most powerful public official. Major corporations and other special interests needing favors from the governor have poured money into his daughter's war chest. And perhaps not surprisingly, their generosity has coincided with favorable action by the governor. But for Lisa Murkowski, the truly big money has flowed in from Veco Corp., a major Anchorage construction firm. Veco is not only the largest single donor to the Republican senator but is regarded by many Alaskans as the most powerful company in their state. While its interests are broad and varied, from the oil industries to local construction, the Halliburton-like firm has an important potential stake in one of the state's most controversial projects: a private prison in the port town of Whittier that could ultimately cost the state more than $1 billion. Alaska currently rents space for more than 700 state prisoners at a privately run correctional facility in Arizona, under an arrangement that harms convicts' families, while draining money from the state. Pressure to ameliorate this situation has been growing. For several years, Cornell Companies of Texas, a major corporate prison operator, has proposed building a new privatized prison in Alaska. Their fortunes began to improve after they teamed up with Veco in 2002. Facing opposition from state correction officials, unions and local communities, Frank Murkowski declared his firm opposition to any private prison construction when he ran for governor in 2002. Since taking office, however, the senior Murkowski has gradually backed away from that position over the past year. Although Gov. Murkowski's aides said he still opposed the Veco-Cornell prison plan in the spring of 2003, he then turned around and told legislators that the issue still required "further study." This was a substantial victory for Veco and Cornell, whose executives insist their plan would be cheaper than building and operating new public prison space. By last April, Murkowski's aides were floating plans for a "compromise" that would allow construction of the privatized prison, financed by state bonds, if it met certain conditions imposed by state authorities. What caused the governor to change his strongly stated opposition to privatized prisons? He hasn't explained his shift yet. But in May 2003, a prominent Anchorage architect named Mark Pfeffer met with his aides to promote the Veco-Cornell prison project. Pfeffer had recently joined the prison consortium, and he had also signed on as treasurer for Lisa Murkowski's reelection campaign. Around that time, her father began to back away from his pledge to oppose private prisons, issuing a vague announcement that his administration would take a "fresh look" at the Veco-Cornell prison plan. Meanwhile, money from Veco and its lobbyists has flowed into Lisa Murkowski's campaign. The first $2,000 check from Veco chairman Bill Allen showed up on May 13, 2003, only days after the Anchorage Daily News reported the governor's shift on his project. Allen, who registered as a lobbyist in Anchorage to push the project, has given regularly and generously -- as have other Veco executives, whose total of $43,750 is Murkowski's largest single donation. Lobbyists from Patton Boggs, which represents Veco in promoting the prison deal, have given her an additional $12,000. The pattern appears plain enough. While the Murkowskis pretend not to know each other, the special interests that know them both have invested heavily in her campaign while awaiting his nod.

May 8, 2003
Rival bills to build a mega-prison have been shelved in the Legislature for this year, as the Murkowski administration says it wants to take a fresh look at corrections issues -- including the relative costs of private and public prisons -- before taking up the matter again.  The pause appears to give new breathing space to advocates of building a 1,200-bed private prison in Whittier.  Murkowski spokesman John Manly this week reiterated the governor's opposition to the Whittier plan, which would create Alaska's first private prison.  Testimony this year over the rival Whittier and Mat-Su bills featured conflicting and controversial cost claims, with Texas-based Cornell Companies and the state corrections officials each processing their approach would be cheaper than the other.  But Manly denied a report this week from a leading private prison backer that the administration plans to set up a public-private working group to explore the prison issues.  Cornell consultant Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner and the spokesman for a politically powerful consortium of prison-building companies pushing the Whittier plan, told the Whittier City Council earlier this week that the Murkowski administration had developed misgivings about cost estimates from the state corrections department.  Outlining late-session lobbying efforts on the prison bills, Prewitt wrote in a memo to Whittier officials that Murkowski had finally asked for a "time out" to set up an interim committee to assess the administration's next move.  Manly dismissed Prewitt's account as the self-serving work of a partisan in the debate.  "It was nice of him to make an announcement for us," Manly said.  Despite strong support in past Legislatures, based partly on claims they could save money, private prison plans have foundered in the face of local opposition in South Anchorage, Delta Junction and Kenai.  (Anchorage Daily News)

March 14, 2003
Backers of a proposed 1,200-bed private prison in Whittier are attacking the Corrections Department argument that a state-run prison in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley would be cheaper.  "The question is whose figures do you believe," said Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee. Gov. Frank Murkowski has endorsed the bill calling for the state-run prison in Mat-Su. He opposed private prisons during his campaign, and his commissioner of corrections, Marc Antrim, has said he believes prisons ought to be run by the state rather than for profit.  Antrim testified last month that the state's costs under the Whittier private prison bill would be an estimated $127.25 a prisoner a day. The proposal for a state-run prison would cost $110.39, he said.  Those numbers struck right at the heart of the arguments from private prison backers, who claim it would be cheaper than a government operation because of lower wages and benefits for prison workers and other efficiencies.  The cheapest option would be to leave the Alaska prisoners in Arizona, state figures say. But persistent objections are raised that having the prisoners thousands of miles from their homes is bad for rehabilitation, and that the state's money is being exported.  (Anchorage Daily News)

February 19, 2003
Efforts to win state funding for a 1,200-bed private prison in Whittier are under way once again. But this year the prison has a new rival: a 1,200-bed state-run prison proposed for Sutton in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.  Both the private and public prison plans have powerful backers in Juneau .
Gov. Frank Murkowski has not yet weighed in, but administration officials appear to be leaning toward a state-run facility. Murkowski said during the campaign that he opposed building a large private prison in Alaska .  "There's no indication of a change within the new administration or the Department of Corrections," said Portia Parker, assistant commissioner of corrections. "I don't see how you're going to run a facility economically in Whittier . It's going to be very, very difficult."  Currently about 650 inmates are housed in a private prison in Arizona .  Cornell has led a well-endowed consortium, including Anchorage design and construction companies, that has been the only real contender for the state contract. Under Cornell's plan, the city of Whittier would finance and own the new prison with bonds guaranteed by a long-term state contract.  But Cornell has lost some powerful legislative backers to electoral turnover. Their new champion is freshman Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, whose Hillside district includes Whittier .  "The governor has said he'll be open and receptive to consider all suggestions from the Legislature," said Hawker, who introduced HB 55, the private-prison bill. He said opposition to the private prison has come mainly from unions afraid of losing jobs.  Hawker faces a formidable bipartisan list of sponsors for the Mat-Su proposal, SB 65, headed by Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, the co-chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee.  The Mat-Su area wants the jobs from prison expansion but has been clear about not wanting a private prison, Mat-Su Borough manager John Duffy said.  We believe that correctional facilities should be operated by the public sector. It's just like state troopers," Duffy said.  This year, Cornell has an undefined "teaming agreement" with the Alaska Native Brotherhood of Juneau and is talking with other Native groups, Prewitt said.  (Anchorage Daily News)

January 17, 2003
Loren Leman stopped an initiative drive seeking to decriminalize marijuana, ruling Tuesday that hundreds of signatures collected were no valid.  Leman, a former state senator who sponsored a bill in 1999 to turn back the state's medical marijuana laws, said in a statement that the pro-marijuana group will have to begin from scratch to get its measure before voters in 2004.  The proposed initiative would have asked voters in the August 2004 primary ballot to decriminalize and regulate marijuana.  (AP)

January 18, 2003 
It looks like the legislature will be debating the merits of a private prison again this year.  Two Anchorage representatives are sponsoring a bill to have the city of Whittier contract to have a 12-hundred bed private prison built there.  A similar bill failed to pass the Legislature last year.  (KTVA.com)

October 21, 2002
James Price was driving to Ninilchik, where the state shut down a road maintenance station this winter for lack of funding, as he talked about what's wrong with Alaska's government.  He's the only candidate opposing incumbent Rep. Mike Chenault, a Republican and fellow Nikiski resident.  The way he sees it, special-interest groups back major candidates and get favors in return that skew the state budget.  A case in point, he said, was the private prison proposal that polarized citizens on the Kenai Peninsula.  Price led a group opposing the prison project, and Chenault wrote legislation supporting it.  Voters turned it down in a special election.  The borough mayor and Assembly backed the project.  "I looked at the prison as an opportunity for economic development," Chenault said.  (Anchorage Daily News)

August 24, 2002
Calling them part an organized effort to hurt his chances in Tuesday's Republican Party primary race for Sen. District Q, Republican Sen. Jerry Ward responded to statements made in three letters to the editor appearing in Thursday's edition of the Peninsula Clarion.   "What we have here is a last-minute letter-to-the-editor campaign, orchestrated with the help of whoever places the letters (in the paper) who is trying to generate a story, and controlled by Outside interests trying to influence the election on the Kenai Peninsula," Ward said. "Sleazy, last-minute attacks are not accepted well on the Kenai Peninsula, and I'm sure that this one will not be either."   One letter writer asked why Ward seemed "so fixated" on having Alaska indebted to Cornell Corrections, the firm that worked unsuccessfully to put a private prison in Kenai.   Another letter writer, Frank Smith, who lives in Bluff City, Kan., also questioned the connection between Ward, private prison backers and the failure of the effort to bring one to Delta Junction in 1999. Allvest Inc. and Delta Corrections Corp. entered an agreement with Delta Junction that later ended up in a breach of contract suit settled out of court. Smith said the attempt to put a private prison at Fort Greely ended up leaving that community with a $1 million debt.   Peter Hallgren, city administrator of Delta Junction, said it is a sore subject in the community, adding that he did not want to rehash old details.   He did not categorize what connection, if any, Ward had had with the effort to put a prison at Fort Greely.   "The city of Delta Junction wants to put the entire prison matter as far behind it as it can and has no interest in engaging in election debates at this point," he said. "There is no question we have a million-dollar liability from the prison lawsuit settlement."   Hallgren went on to say, however, that Ward did support a legislative effort to provide relief for Delta Junction this year.  (Peninsula Clarion)

July 5, 2002
Gov. Tony Knowles' veto of a $1 million interest-free loan to the city of Delta Junction caught city officials off guard. The loan would have allowed the city to finish paying its $1.1 million breach-of-contract settlement with Allvest Inc. and Delta Corrections Corp. stemming from a failed effort to build a private prison at Fort Greely. The money was due July 1. Knowles' spokeswoman Julie Penn said a provision in the loan bill would have converted the loan to a grant if the city became part of an organized borough. A state bailout of a city's lawsuit could set a bad precedent, she said.   "The state was not a party to the litigation," Penn said.  (The Associated Press State and Local Wire)

June 29, 2002
Democrat Gov. Tony Knowles signed into law a $2.4 million budget that funds state government next fiscal year, but deleted millions in GOP projects.  "It makes a mockery of the cries for fiscal restraint," Knowles said.  Alaska's fiscal straits were a passing concern for the Legislature this year as the state faces a $1 billion budget deficit in future years.  Among other projects Knowles vetoes Friday:  A $1 million, no-interest loan to Delta Junction to pay legal expenses for a lawsuit stemming from a plan to build a private prison.  (The Associated Press)  

May 24, 2002
A private prison won't be going up in Whittier.  The Whittier private prison bill was one of the two measures favored by Anchorage oil field services and construction firm Veco that faltered this season.  The prison bill came to close to passing.  It made it through the House and through most of its Senate committees but ran in the Senate Rules committee.  (Anchorage Daily News)

Alutiiq Security and Technology
Wackenhut

April 26, 2005 Anchorage Daily News
A union with nearly 2 million government and private-sector members wants the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate how a $450 million contract awarded to an Alaska Native company is being handled. The Service Employees International Union says at least 17 private security guards employed by Alutiiq, a subsidiary of Kodiak-based Afognak Native Corp., plan to file claims with the Labor Department saying they were shortchanged on pay. Alutiiq says the union is misinformed and is engaged in a smear campaign with the goal of increasing its membership. "This shows the peril of subcontracting to a company that has low standards," said Stephen Lerner, head of the union's building services division. He was referring to multinational security giant Wackenhut Corp., Alutiiq's subcontractor. Wackenhut is a subsidiary of Britain-based Group 4 Securicor, the world's second-largest private security firm. Alutiiq, with Wackenhut, won a sole-source contract from the U.S. Defense Department in August 2003 to provide armed guards at 18 military installations in the Lower 48, said Dick Hobbs, Alutiiq's executive vice president for operations. The contract is worth $90 million annually and can be renewed for up to five years, he said. No competitive bidding took place because the contract was awarded under legislation authored by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, that gives Alaska Native corporations preferential treatment in getting government work. Congress' intent was to give Alaska Natives a competitive edge in business, and a growing number of the Alaska companies have won billions of dollars' worth of contracts in recent years. The practice, under fire from public watchdog groups, is currently being investigated by the Government Accountability Office.

December 10, 2004 News & Observer
We commend your excellent Nov. 30 editorial and the fine investigative report on Nov. 28 on the award of no-bid deals to Alaska Native Corporations such as Alutiiq Security and Technology. We endorse your call for urgent scrutiny of this system and the back-door access it affords major defense contractors like Wackenhut Corp. to gain lucrative federal work by teaming with Alutiiq as a subcontractor. Your reporters quoted an Army spokesman who said that Alutiiq, with little experience in security, would have been unlikely to win the contract on its own. But it gets even worse: Wackenhut was a failed bidder in the second phase of contracts which were competitively awarded. Only in this perverse "system within a system" can two losers become a winner. If companies like Wackenhut can skirt competitive bidding processes, taxpayers can have little confidence that we are getting value for money -- in this case up to half a billion dollars Bill Ragen Deputy Director, Building Services Division, Service Employees International Union Washington.

Chenega Technology Services Corp.
March 8, 2005 Government Executive
Two members of the House Government Reform Committee have announced an investigation into contracts awarded to Alaska native corporations without competition. Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., committee chairman, and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ranking member, wrote letters to the Government Accountability Office and several federal agencies, citing press reports of large security-related contracts worth up to $2.2 billion awarded to companies owned by natives of Alaska. Contracts awarded to these corporations, which are classified as disadvantaged, bypass the normal competitive process under a Small Business Administration section, known as the 8(a) business development program. To participate, businesses must be a member of an ethnic minority or show they are disadvantaged in another way, and they must also be a small business. Drew Crockett, a spokesman for Davis, said the letters focus on Alaska native corporations because they do not face a money limit on contracts awarded without competition. Other participants in the 8(a) program can only avoid competition on contracts valued at $5 million for goods and $3 million for services. The letters suggest that while Alaska native corporations receive the contracts, much of the work is done by large subcontractors, which are not eligible for the 8(a) program. Those large companies, the GAO letter states, "should be capable of obtaining federal contracts through the standard competitive process."

Cordova Center
Anchorage, Alaska
Cornell

November 21, 2008 AP
A 21-year-old Anchorage man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he escaped from Cornell Corrections of Alaska. Federal prosecutors say Jedediah Smith remains at-large since his Nov. 1 escape. Smith was first indicted last month on charges of a felon being in possession of a firearm. He was assigned to Cornell Corrections Oct. 14 by a federal magistrate judge. Prosecutors say Smith faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or both, if convicted.

November 10, 2004 KTUU
A shooting in an Airport Heights apartment building Tuesday night left one man dead, and his brother in custody. It was about 9:30 p.m. when police received a 911 call from a woman. Officers responded to an Airport Heights apartment complex on Columbine Court near DeBarr Road and found a man mortally wounded. The individuals turned out to be brothers. Police say 30-year-old Ralph Landry was shot at least once in the upper torso. He was rushed to Alaska Regional Hospital, where he died a short time later during surgery. Police say it was Landry's younger brother who pulled the trigger. “Through the investigation, we identified Calvin Landry, who's about 23 years old, as a suspect in the homicide,” said Lt. Kris Miller. Police actually had been looking for Calvin Landry long before Tuesday’s shooting. “He has an outstanding warrant for escape, basically walking away from a halfway house,” Miller said. Last July, Landry walked away from the Cordova Center, where he was serving out a sentence for drunken driving and theft. Now it appears he is in more serious trouble.

August 4, 2004
The man who managed an Anchorage halfway house is accused of sexually assaulting an inmate.  Charles Rubin, 41, was arrested last night at his home on Elmendorf Air Force Base. Rubin was the security manager at Cordova Center until last May, when, according to police, he lured a 23-year-old woman into an office and coerced her into having sex.  Police say the woman believed she would be sent back to Hiland Mountain Correctional Center if she resisted Rubin's advances.  The Cornell Company, a private firm that manages the Cordova Center, says it put Rubin on administrative leave the day after the assault was reported. It says Rubin was fired a month later.  (Ktuu.com)

August 22, 2002
Two 21-year-old men who had walked away from an Anchorage halfway house were arrested early Tuesday for an armed carjacking, Anchorage police said.   James M. Stark and Nathan M. Klinger were each charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree auto theft, according to papers filed in Anchorage District Court.   Both men were escapees from Anchorage's Cordova House, said police.  (Anchorage Daily News)  

January 23, 2001
A jury Monday ordered Allvest Inc.to pay more than $80,000 in actual damages plus $1 million in punitive damages to five women who were sexually harassed or assaulted by a guard at an Anchorage halfway house operated by the company. The jury found Allvest guilty of negligence in the hiring, screening, training and supervising of J.C. Lewis Jr. "There was no record that Allvest checked any references," said Les Syren, a lawyer for the women. The state settled its part of the case earlier this month, agreeing to pay a total of $45,000 to the five women, Syren said. (AP)

Delta Junction, Alaska
Cornell
April 17, 2009 News Miner
•Seven years ago, the Legislature approved a plan by Rep. John Harris to give an interest-free $1 million loan to the city of Delta Junction to pay legal costs related to a settlement over the establishment of a private prison. The appropriation was contingent upon the city agreeing to give up $50,000 a year in municipal assistance for 20 years. "They are getting a better deal than they would at a bank. However, it is a loan that they have to repay,” Harris was quoted as saying at the time. The loan would be forgiven entirely, however, and be turned into a grant if Delta became part of a borough. But Gov. Tony Knowles vetoed the measure, saying it would set a bad precedent for the state to bail out a city over a lawsuit. Knowles relied on advice from the attorney general’s office, which said, “Use of state money to pay a litigation-based settlement, in which the state was not a party, raises significant legal questions as to whether the expenditure would be for a public purpose. The retirement of a preexisting debt confers no benefit on the public.” The idea that the loan would be forgiven with the formation of a borough was also of dubious legal merit, the AG said. In 2003, Gov. Frank Murkowski vetoed a $500,000 loan with the same forgiveness clauses because of similar legal doubts, but he changed his mind the next year when the Legislature approved a $1 million loan. He said he thought the area should form a borough and the forgiveness provision encouraged that step. The plan to create a borough was rejected by voters in 2007, but Delta Junction has never stopped trying to get the loan forgiven. Harris has made multiple attempts to redefine the loan as a grant. In early 2008, the city council met with Harris and Sen. Gene Therriault. The minutes of the meeting make reference to a comment by City Administrator Mike Tvenge: “He said the no-interest loan from the state was appreciated because it saved the City from technical bankruptcy but the city felt the state was part of the problem and they should eliminate the debt.” The debt was the result of an out-of-court settlement between the city and Allvest Inc., a private contractor that wanted to build a prison a decade ago and had signed a deal with the city. During a 2007 council meeting, according to the minutes, member Louis Heinbockel “said he felt the prison debt was a scam with the Knowles administration, the debt was assumed by the city because of default from the state of Alaska. The state was the prime mover on the prison and the city should not be spending $50,000 a year to cover that debt.” Pete Hallgren, former city administrator, said he agreed with Heinbockel. During the 2007 session, legislators approved language to forgive the debt. But Gov. Sarah Palin became the third governor to issue a veto on the topic after the attorney general’s office again raised constitutional concerns. “Removing the contingency language of borough formation and converting the loan to a municipal grant before a borough is formed may raise issues of public funds being used to pay a preexisting debt and thus run afoul of art. IX, sec. 6 of the Alaska” Constitution, said Attorney General Talis Colberg. Harris told the Delta City Council last fall that he planned to speak with Colberg about the prison loan. On Thursday, the latest attempt by Harris to get the loan forgiven surfaced in language inserted into a budget bill, Senate Bill 75, before the House Finance Committee. When asked for an explanation, John Bitney, an aide to Harris, told the committee: “This is structured such that the loan can basically be forgiven, if you will. The original language that appropriated had the contingency that the forgiveness would come only if the community incorporated as a borough. And as you can see that contingency is being removed with this language.” There was no discussion about the merits of changing the loan to a grant. In an e-mail today, Bitney said the language was offered by Harris at the request of the city.

August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

June 30, 2007 Daily News-Miner
When the red ink dried on Gov. Sarah Palin’s line-item budget vetoes, the city of Delta Junction proved one of the big losers. “We came out with zero,” said City Administrator Pete Hallgren. Palin cut $15,000 slated for a motocross course, $45,000 for a youth activities facility, and $500,000 for street paving and lighting. She also blocked a legislative decision to relieve a $1 million debt stemming from a city settlement years ago with a company brought on to convert unused military buildings at Fort Greely to a private prison. The governor explained her vetoes by saying the first three projects were not state responsibilities and the fourth raised legal concerns.

June 1, 2007 Daily News-Miner
State lawmakers have approved funding in the state’s capital budget to pay off a debt of nearly $1 million owed by the city of Delta Junction. The debt comes from the city’s settlement years ago with a company brought on to convert unused military buildings at Fort Greely to a private prison. When the plan fell through, the company sued for breach of contract, City Administrator Pete Hallgren said. The city settled before the case went to trial. Delta paid off $100,000 of the $1.1 million settlement, then asked the state for a loan to pay the rest, he said. The state provided the loan, and the city has been paying it back at a rate of $50,000 a year. “This year we asked if the state could forgive the rest of the loan,” he said. Hallgren said he appreciated the loan forgiveness, which he said would make it easier for the city to provide public services.

July 26, 2004
The Interior city of Delta Junction will receive a $1.2 million no-interest loan from the state to pay off a lawsuit settlement, under a bill signed into law by Gov. Frank Murkowski.  The governor's action last week comes a year after he vetoed a similar proposal and two years after then-Gov. Tony Knowles did the same thing.  The loan will allow the city to finish paying its breach-of-contract settlement with Allvest Inc. and Delta Corrections Corp. stemming from a failed effort to build a private prison at Fort Greely.  In 1998, the city and Allvest reached a contract to build a private prison on Fort Greely, but the noncompetitively bid deal led to a public outcry.  The city then rescinded the contract in 1999, leading Allvest to file a breach-of-contract lawsuit that was ended by settlement. Delta Junction has paid $100,000 of the settlement and owes about $1.16 million.  But city officials have refused to keep making payments, arguing that the settlement deal was contingent on them getting money from the state.  That led to a second lawsuit, which was recently decided in Allvest's favor.  (AP)

November 8, 2002
An attorney in a lawsuit against Allvest Inc., which attempted to open a private prison near Delta Junction three years ago, has filed a petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to force Allvest into involuntary bankruptcy.   The bankruptcy, if it occurs, would not mean the city of Delta Junction can avoid paying the $1 million it owes Allvest from an out-of-court settlement stemming from the failed prison project at Fort Greely. The city paid $100,000 in the $1.1 million settlement but has not paid the $1 million balance due last July 1.   Allvest, meanwhile, also faces two lawsuits that allege its board of directors defrauded plaintiffs in two 2001 court judgments that held the private corporation responsible for wrongful actions. The bankruptcy petition was filed by the attorney in one of those cases.   Attorneys Tim Dooley and Brett von Gemmingen, both of Anchorage, allege that Allvest owner William C. Weimar sold Allvest assets valued at more than $17 million and distributed most of those funds to himself, with the transfer approved by the Allvest board of directors: Weimar, Frank Prewitt and Robert Cronen.   "These transfers were made with the intent to evade just obligations," Dooley alleges in his lawsuit, filed in August.   The original lawsuits involved two separate cases.   In April 2001, five women won a total settlement of about $1.25 million in Anchorage District Court for sexual abuse at Cordova House, an Allvest facility. The money the city of Delta Junction owes Delta Corrections Group is to be paid into the registry of the court in that case.   The second suit involved the estate of a man who died after being picked up as a drunk by Community Service Patrol, another Allvest company. A jury in June 2001 found Allvest 60 percent at fault in the man's death and awarded his estate more than $3 million.   In Delta Junction, city officials had pinned their hopes on a bill by Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, to loan Delta Junction $1 million.   But Gov. Tony Knowles vetoed the bill, saying it would have set a dangerous precedent and would not have benefited Alaska as a whole.  (News-Miner)

June 3, 2002
In a lean budget year, lawmakers still managed to find $1 million to pay the costs of an out-of-court settlement for the city of Delta Junction. The money will allow the city to end a dispute with Allvest Inc., and Delta Corrections Corp. to resolve a $1.1 million breach of contract dispute. The dispute stemmed from an abortive attempt to locate a private prison at Fort Greely in 1998. The city previously paid $100,000 to the company. "As far as the city is concerned, this will settle our obligation with the prison people and we are moving on from here," said Pete Hallgren, Delta Junction city administrator. Under terms of the deal, Delta Junction would receive a 20-year, no-interest loan from the state. The city would forfeit $50,000 from municipal assistance revenues it receives annually from the state. The capital budget now goes to Gov. Tony Knowles for consideration. Knowles spokesman Bob King said the governor will consider the merits of the proposal before acting. "Here you have a million dollar item that appeared with no discussion. We don't know what the justification is," King said. Allvest, which operated in Delta Junction as Delta Corrections Group, successfully pitched the prison project to the city in 1998. Under the plan, Delta Corrections Corp. would have operated a prison built by the city on lands made available when Fort Greely realigned. But in early 1999, after elections had changed the complexion of the Delta Junction City Council, the city rescinded the contract that would have made Delta Corrections the recipient of the prison without competitive bids. Allvest sued, claiming breach of contract. The settlement agreement called for the city and the company to attempt to get $3 million from the federal government. The city was in line to receive funds in conjunction with the National Missile Defense system. But the money could not be used for the settlement, so the agreement allowed the city and company to agree to a $1 million settlement, Hallgren said. Allvest was the largest provider of halfway house beds in Alaska. The company is owned by Bill Weimer, who could not be reached for comment. Weimer's company will not immediately see the money. The company has at least one injunction against it for a lawsuit brought by five women who were sexually assaulted at the Cordova House in Anchorage. The women won a $1.2 million judgment against the company in Superior Court in Anchorage and that judgment has not been paid, said attorney Brent Von Gemmingen. Von Gemmingen said the company also owes about $3 million from another lawsuit, casting doubt on whether the five women he represents will receive payment.  (The Associated Press and Local Wire)

Fort Greely
Delta Junction, Alaska
Cornell

February 28, 2002
The cash-strapped city of Delta Junction has a $1 million debt due soon for its settlement of a private prison lawsuit and is lobbying the state to foot the bill.   "The city does not have the funds necessary to meet this obligation," Delta Junction Mayor Roy Gilbertson said in a letter sent to state legislators earlier this session.   But the request faces much skepticism in a Legislature dealing with a projected billion-dollar state budget hole.   The city's debt comes due on June 30. When asked how Delta Junction would pay without help from the state, City Economic Development Director Pete Hallgren responded that discussions are ongoing.   "Our attorneys are talking to the people we owe the money to," Hallgren said.   Those people are Allvest/Cornell Inc., the company that sought to build a private prison at Fort Greely.   In 1999 the City Council had signed a contract to allow Allvest to build the private prison at the shuttered base just outside of town.   But the prison proposal bitterly divided the small highway community, and the City Council backed off from the Allvest agreement amid controversy over the lack of a competitive bid process.   Allvest soon responded with a breach-of-contract lawsuit, and the matter was settled out of court for $1.1 million. The city has been able to pay just $100,000.   Valdez Republican Rep. John Harris, who represents Delta Junction, said he feels an obligation to try to secure the $1 million in state funds for Delta Junction because he encouraged the city to settle the lawsuit.  The city is expecting to receive a large amount of federal funds from the Missile Defense Agency.  But that money is not allowed to be used for paying off prison lawsuit settlements.  (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

July 9, 2001
Voters in Delta Junction will go the polls Tuesday to decide whether two city council members should be recalled.  Organizers of the recall campaign allege that Roy Gilbertson and Susan Kemp bungled the city's efforts to construct a private prison and misappropriated Office of Economics Adjustment funds to pay legal bills.  The two remind voters that the prison project was eventually found to be financially unfeasible for the city, and had the city followed through on the original contract, it would still have failed.  "So much agony over the prison would have been avoided if an independent financial feasibility study had been earlier funded," Gilbertson wrote.  (AP)

April 21, 2001
Delta Junction and a private prison company may have "settled" their lawsuit by agreeing to ask the federal government to pay them $3 million, but U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens wants to see more information.  The city, acting as the local authority to decide how the closed base (Fort Greely) should be used, entered the contract with Allvest early in 1999.  After council elections that year, the city council voted to rescind the agreement.  Allvest sued.  Under the settlement agreement, the two parties agreed to ask the federal government to reimburse them $3 million for the planning work they did on the project.  Allvest is to take the lead in the request, according to the settlement.  About $2.5 million would go to the company and $500,000 to the city.  (AP) 

April 18, 2001
The Delta Junction city council has agreed to end its foray into the prison business and settle a lawsuit filed by Allvest, which had wanted to build a private prison on Fort Greely.  The settlement could cost Delta Junction as much as $1.1 million.  However, it may not cost either party a cent.  Both the city and Allvest hope the federal government will reimburse them a total of $3 million for expenses incurred in planning the prison.  The settlement marks the officials demise of the prison plan, which was weakened after studies questioned its profitability and the federal government decided Fort Greely would make a prime missile defense system site.  "Under the settlement the city is out of the Delta prison and so is Allvest," said Pete Hallgren, director of the city's Department of Economic Development.  (AP)

Hudson Correctional Facility, Hudson, Colorado
GEO Group (bought Cornell Companies)
April 10, 2013 AP

Alaskan prisoners housed in the Hudson Correctional Facility in northeast Colorado are heading home to new quarters after a temporary stay while a new jail was being built. The move to a new Alaskan prison in September could leave 1,200 empty prison beds empty and 200 jobs lost in a region of Colorado starved for jobs. According to the Greeley Tribune, the GEO Group, a private company that runs the four-year-old medium security prison, could be left without any customers. So far, there is no word on any further contracts with other states, including Colorado’s Department of Corrections. The 1,250-bed correctional center was built in 2009 by Cornell Companies, but later was taken over by the GEO Group, which runs private prisons throughout the world.

December 17, 2010 Fort Morgan Times
District Attorney Robert Watson has filed a request in Morgan County District Court to revoke a personal recognizance bond for Jessica Rehn of Fort Morgan. Rehn is accused of smuggling heroin into the Hudson Correctional Facility and was arrested on a warrant on charges of distribution and possession of a schedule 1 controlled substance and introducing contraband into a correctional facility. Wesley Shandy, an inmate in the facility, died of a drug overdose; cellmate James Stanley is accused of providing Shandy with heroin and remains in the facility. Both were serving sentences in the Hudson facility, a private prison, on offenses in Alaska. Watson said Rehn was actively engaged in a multi-state scheme, using the mail, to distribute drugs by personally introducing it into the Hudson prison. The state legislature has required a $50,000 bond for people charged with distributing schedule II controlled substances unless there is showing of good cause to set a different amount, Watson said in his motion. "As a direct result of the defendant's criminal conduct, an inmate died," the D.A. said. Rehn received the heroin by mail August 14 and smuggled two balloons of it into the Hudson facility August 15 in her bra, slipping it to Stanley, her boyfriend, during a kiss, Corey Fox of the Colorado Department of Corrections said in an affidavit. After an August 17 interview with law enforcement, Morgan County Sheriff's Office Investigator Jessica Schlagel obtained permission from Rehn to search her car, and officers found three balloons of suspected heroin and a mail envelope, Fox said. The substance in the bags tested positive for heroin, Fox noted. Fox said that Rehn told law enforcement officials Stanley had asked her to bring drugs into the facility.

August 18, 2010 Greeley Tribune
An autopsy Tuesday failed to pinpoint the cause of death of an Alaskan inmate at the Hudson Correctional Facility in southern Weld County. Wesley Shandy, 44, was found dead in his cell Sunday morning at the prison in Hudson, and the Weld County Coroner's Office performed the autopsy. Chief Coroner's Investigator Mark Ward said there was no cause of death shown in the autopsy, so they will have to wait for the toxicology report. Toxicology tests will indicate if drugs were present in the body and if they contributed to the death. It will take up to two weeks to get the toxicology results in this case, Ward said. No other information has been released. State agencies from Colorado and Alaska are looking into the case. Investigators have not said if there were signs of an assault or a struggle.

August 16, 2010 Denver Post
Authorities from a number of agencies are investigating the death of an inmate from Alaska who was found unresponsive in his cell at Hudson Correctional Facility in Weld County Sunday morning. Wesley Shandy, 44, of Ninilchik was serving a 19-year sentence for manslaughter in the death of his fiancee, felony drunken driving and witness tampering. Hudson Correctional houses a number of Alaskan prisoners at the 1,250-bed medium security private prison operated by GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla. The company released a statement this afternoon. "The Hudson Correctional Facility is cooperating fully with the Alaska Department of Corrections, the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation," according to the statement. A company spokesman citing the investigation said by e-mail he could not comment further.

April 30, 2010 The News Tribune
The security breach this month at a private Colorado prison holding hundreds of Alaskans was caused by human error, according to Cornell Companies, the prison owner and operator. A correctional officer in a central area electronically unlocked the doors to the cells of 41 inmates around 1:20 a.m. on April 14, allowing the prisoners into the pod corridors, Charles Seigel, Cornell spokesman, said Thursday. The officer at Hudson Correctional Facility has resigned, Seigel said. The company wouldn't release the officer's name. Cornell hired experts who determined the problem was not mechanical, Seigel said. Seigel said the officer was properly trained in security procedures and it's not clear why he unlocked the cell doors. The pod holds inmates who were in segregation, typically for behavioral problems or their own protection. The lapse led to an uprising involving eight to 12 inmates, Seigel said. When the cell doors unlocked, most of the inmates stepped out, looked around and returned to their cells, according to Cornell. At least one tried to assist authorities by describing on the intercom what was happening. Two correctional officers in the pod barricaded themselves in a staff office during the disturbance, which lasted about six hours. Some of the inmates used a filing cabinet like a battering ram to try to break into the office, Seigel said. The door was dented but they weren't able to open it. In February, one inmate in the segregation unit punched the assistant warden and broke his nose, Seigel said. That inmate now faces new criminal charges, Seigel said. He said Cornell doesn't release names of inmates and Colorado authorities weren't able to provide details on Friday. Seigel said he didn't know how long the officer who made the mistake had worked for Cornell. The prison only opened in November, and most of the officers were new. Starting pay is $12 an hour and would be higher for experienced officers, according to Cornell. The state of Alaska contracts with Cornell to house Alaska inmates at Hudson. The prison houses only Alaskans. At the time of the disturbance, 877 inmates were at the facility. Seigel said he thought at least a couple of the instigators in the disturbance had been moved to a Colorado institution. Corrections officials from Colorado and Alaska also have been investigating what happened. The Colorado department's private prison monitoring unit and inspector general's office are involved, said Monica Crocker, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections. As a result of the breach and inmate uprising, Cornell also is looking into making improvements in the security system, Seigel said.

April 14, 2010 Denver Post
A disturbance at the privately owned Hudson Correctional Facility 25 miles northeast of Denver International Airport was sparked when cell doors in a unit housing 41 inmates from Alaska inexplicably opened early this morning. Charles Seigel, spokesman for the Cornell Companies, which operates the prison, said his company is investigating whether the doors opened at about 1:20 a.m. in the prison's segregation unit because of an electronic malfunction or human error. The segregation unit houses inmates who have disciplinary issues and have caused problems, as well as inmates in protective custody, Seigel said. When inmates realized the cell doors were open, many left their cells but most returned a short time later. However, as many as a dozen began destroying sprinkler heads and computers. They also tried to break out of the building by breaking windows. Seigel said the inmates who vandalized the unit were housed there because of disciplinary problems. The disturbance caused widespread water damage. The unit was littered with water, paper and smashed computers. Seigel said that two guards who were in the unit fled to a captain's office where they locked and barricaded the door. He said some of the inmates outside the office tried to protect the two guards in the captain's office. During the disturbance, which lasted until about 7:30 a.m., the two guards were in constant communications with prison officials and were able to watch what was going through windows, Seigel said. Seigel said prison officials decided to let things cool down before acting. At 7:30 a.m., the prison sent in its emergency response team. The team used tear gas to subdue the inmates. No corrections officers were injured. But Seigel said some of the inmates had bruises and abrasions. He said the instigator of the disturbance suffered the worst injury, a cut hand. Seigel said rioters will be charged under Colorado law. Seigel said the entire prison, which houses 877 inmates from Alaska, is on lockdown, with all inmates remaining in their cells. He said the lockdown will remain through at least Thursday. Richard Schmitz, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Corrections, said the Hudson Correctional Facility opened in November 2009. Only Alaska inmates are housed there.

April 14, 2010 AP
A small group of Alaska inmates took over a section of the privately owned Hudson Correctional Facility during a prison disturbance overnight. No injuries were reported in the disturbance that happened late Tuesday or early Wednesday at the prison owned by Cornell Companies Inc. Company spokesman Charles Seigel says the disturbance involving about eight inmates has been brought under control. The group damaged sprinklers, setting off a fire alarm. Additional details were not immediately available. Cornell opened the 1,250-bed medium security prison in November and houses about 1,000 inmates from Alaska. The Colorado Department of Corrections, which oversees private prisons in the state, has sent six investigators to the prison Wednesday. A telephone call seeking comment from Alaska Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt Wednesday was not immediately returned.

Kenai Peninsula
Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska
Cornell

August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

October 14, 2001
An expensive, bitterly fought campaign over building a privately operated prison on the Kenai Peninsula wound up with a $305,000 price tag. Most of the money was poured into advertising.  Voters said no by a nearly 3-1 ratio. The proposition lost 9,373 to 3,429.   Most campaign funding, $162,000, was raised by a group called Concerned Citizens for Responsible Economic Development, representing Cornell and its likely business partners, KNA, Neeser Construction Inc. and Veco Inc.   About $50,000 of that was raised and spent in the last few days of the campaign.  Two anti-prison groups raised the rest of the money. Peninsula Citizens Against Private Prisons, a grass-roots group that triggered the ballot proposition, reported a $42,000 infusion in the last few days of the campaign, raising its total income to nearly $57,000.  The Kenai prison project was the third to fail to win local support since the Legislature started pushing private prisons in 1996.  Despite that track record, Ketchikan is considering pursuing the private prison project. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly is scheduled to discuss a possible feasibility study at its regular Monday meeting, said borough Mayor Jack Shay.  (Anchorage Daily)

September 21, 2001
The Kenai City Council voted 4-2 Wednesday to approve a resolution that gives qualified support for a huge private prison being proposed for the northern outskirts of the city.  If the 800- to 1,000-bed facility is built, it would likely have to tap into the city of Kenai's water and sewer system -- triggering upgrades that could send the city seeking up to $12.8 million from the state.  (Anchorage Daily News)

September 9, 2001
Dollars contributed to the cause may vary by the thousands, but equal amounts of passion have both sides of the prison issue running toe to toe.  In October, Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will decide whether the borough should continue researching the possibility of constructing the state's first private prison, an 800- to 1,000-bed medium-security facility. A team led by Cornell Companies Inc. partnered with the borough earlier this year to plan and promote the project.  According to campaign summaries submitted to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the pro-prison group Concerned Citizens For Responsible Economic Development -- CCFRED -- raised $39,000 in donations, compared with $2,000 raised by Peninsula Citizens Against Private Prisons.  (Peninsula Clarion)

May 30, 2001
Despite his earlier criticism, Gov. Tony Knowles signed a bill into law on Tuesday that brings Alaska closer to construction of its first private prison -- an 800-bed facility proposed on Native-owned land in Kenai.  House Bill 149, sponsored by Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Kenai, authorizes the Department of Corrections to enter into a lease agreement with the Kenai Peninsula Borough to work with a private company that would promote, design, build and operate a medium-security prison.  Companies that run private prisons, like Cornell, have become big factors in election campaigns in Alaska in recent years, according to the Helena, Mont.-based National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group.  During the 1998 election season, Alaska was second only to California in the amount of money spent on candidates by private prison companies and their employees.  Leading the pack was Corrections Corp. of America, which spent $353, 106 on candidates.  Second was Cornell, which spent $110,575, said Ed Bender of the Montana organization and author of a study on private prison campaign spending.  An analysis of contribution records found that Knowles received more money from people associated with Cornell and Allvest than any other candidate in the country during the 1998 election, Bender said.  Cornell owns Allvest.  Knowles received $6,375 from folks associated with Cornell and Allvest, the report said.  California Sen. Betty Karnette got $6,000 from the companies and Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer received $5,500.  Former Rep. Ramona Barnes, R-Anchorage, was fourth on the list with contributions of $5,000.  (Anchorage Daily News) 

May 2, 2001
State senators rejected an amendment Tuesday that would have required a proposed Kenai Peninsula Borough prison to be put out to competitive bid, but removed a provision for escalation of payments for prisoners tied to a cost-of-living index.  House Bill 149 authorizes the Department of Corrections to enter into a lease agreement with the Kenai Peninsula Borough for an 800-bed, medium-security private prison on the Kenai Peninsula.  The borough has entered into a partnership with Corrections Group North to build and operate the prison.  Corrections Group North includes Cornell Corrections Group, the Kenai Natives Association, Livingston Slone Inc., Neeser/VECO as well as lobbyists Joe Hayes and Kent Dawson.  Private prison supporters say it is important to bring Alaska prisoners home so they can be closer to their families and improve their chances for rehabilitation.  Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, objected to the lack of competitive bidding on the project.  "From my understanding, there has been no discussion of what the actual cost is, " he said.  An amendment by Ellis taking out the provision boosting payments to the prison based on a cost-of-living index was approved 12-8.  (Anchorage Daily News)

May 1, 2001
The Knowles administration has raised several last-minute objections to a bill to allow a private prison in Kenai, saying the measure would tie the administration's hands when it tries to negotiate a cost-effective deal.  In a letter sent Saturday to two key Senate leaders, Corrections Commissioner Margaret Pugh complained the latest bill would force the state to pay operating costs for the entire prison for five years, no matter how many of its 800 beds are in use.  Pugh said she wants flexibility to negotiate incentives like those in Arizona, where the state's excess inmates are housed in a private prison.  The prison bill has passed in the House and is expected to go before the Senate today.  It would authorize the Kenai Peninsula Borough to develop Alaska's first private prison with a pre-selected partner, Cornell Corrections.  Margaret Pugh said she is concerned that the prison bill does not address the state's need for regional jail space or provide for adequate competitive bidding.  "It does not appear to require any cost factors or comparisons for the design, construction or operation of a private prison," she wrote.  (Anchorage Daily News) 

April 12, 2001
Some Republicans lawmakers from Kenai Peninsula have blasted a plan, supported by a bill in the Legislature, that would allow a joint venture to build and operate the state's first private prison near Kenai.  In a letter to the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Sen. John Torgerson of Kasilof, Rep. Drew Scalzi of Homer and Rep. Ken Lancaster of Soldotna, criticized the entire process, "from the plans and design, to the enabling legislation, to the construction and operation of the development."  The borough has not determined what the project will cost, has not selected a site, and made it a "sole source contract" by handing it to one operator without competitive bids, the three Republicans said in a letter April 6.  Instead of putting the contract out to bid, asked companies to submit responses to a "Request for Qualifications."  It awarded points depending on how the companies fared.  But the prison group with the highest point total was not selected.  Awarding a construction bid without identifying the cost "sounds like something the Pentagon would do," the legislators" letter said.  A bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Chenault of Kenai, which passed out of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, authorizes the Department of Corrections to work with the Kenai borough on the prison project.  The bill states that "the Legislature expects" the cost to be 18 percent to 20 percent less than the average per diem rate for all state prison facilities and should be about $89 per day per prisoner.  But the costs are "only intent language," the lawmakers wrote, "and we do not have numbers from you to indicate that this payment will in fact defray the anticipated costs."  Since the borough isn't providing information on the facility's bonding costs or potential operating costs, 'it's hard to determine feasibility," they said.  The City of Soldotna, meanwhile, has come out against the plan.  On April 4, the city council passed a resolution stating that it supports the building of a new prison nearby, but is against the plan to have it built and run by a private company.  "The City Council of Soldotna deems it in the best interest of the State that a prison should be publicly run, and decisions not be based on insuring a return to investors."  (Anchorage Daily News)

MacKay Annex
Anchorage
Cornell

November 27, 2004 Anchorage Daily News
A state commissioner on Friday announced a moratorium on new medical services that require a state certificate of need. The moratorium may delay two proposed residential psychiatric treatment centers in Anchorage intended to serve troubled youths. Joel Gilbertson, commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services, said the moratorium was needed because the state is in the midst of setting standards and approving regulations for the certificate of need program. News of the moratorium disappointed Cornell Cos., one of two corporations that have applied for permission to build 60-bed treatment centers in Anchorage. Cornell is hoping to turn the Mac-Kay Building annex in downtown Anchorage into a boys treatment center. North Star Behavioral Health System wants to build a new center next to its psychiatric hospital on DeBarr Road.
"It is definitely a setback for us," said Tim Marshall, western region director of business development for Cornell. The company is paying around $30,000 a month to lease the MacKay annex, he said. The delay is significant, he said.

October 7, 2004 KTUU
The future of the MacKay Annex on Fourth Avenue has many nearby business owners worried about their own future. Confusion about the MacKay Annex started Tuesday when KTUU-TV talked with Paul Douchette, the public relations director for Cornell Companies, the company that may lease the annex. It said the residential psychiatric treatment center would house sex offenders, among other boys with emotional or behavioral issues. But during a follow-up the next day, Douchette changed his story. “I think I may have said that to you yesterday, and when I called and checked this morning I realized that I did misspeak,” he said. However, the residential psychiatric treatment coordinator for the state Division of Behavioral Health says, traditionally, residential psychiatric treatment centers do treat kids with sexual issues. “Some of the kids who are in these residential facilities may have some sexual acting-out behaviors,” said Pam Miller of the division. “And those behaviors can be anything from exposure, to assault of other children or other persons.” She went on to say that some of the kids at the centers may be adjudicated, but not all. “As a corporation, actually, we’ve not even made a yes or no decision on whether we’re going to actually go through with the project,” Douchette said.

Northstar Center
Fairbanks, Alaska
GEO Group
May 24, 2016 adn.com
Fairbanks halfway house inmate escapes, returns with SUV to pick up friends, escapes again
An inmate escaped a Fairbanks halfway house on a bicycle early Sunday morning and returned with an SUV to pick up other prisoners before disappearing again, according to a report from Alaska State Troopers. He's still on the loose. Fairbanks' Northstar Center contacted troopers at 1:05 a.m. on Sunday to report that Joshua Yaska, 20, of Fairbanks, had been seen pedaling away from the facility on a bicycle, troopers said in an online release Sunday. People serving time in Department of Corrections' halfway houses can't be physically prevented from leaving by staff but face escape charges if they walk away. About three hours later, Yaska returned to the Northstar Center in a silver Isuzu SUV to "attempt to aid" other inmates in escaping, troopers said; he allegedly tried to hit a halfway house employee with the SUV and escaped again. "At this time, Yaska's whereabouts are unknown," the dispatch said. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatsuit. Yaska could face charges of fourth-degree escape and third-degree assault in connection with the incident.

Oct 7, 2015 newsminer.com

Men back in custody after Northstar Center walkout

FAIRBANKS — Two men who separately walked away from Northstar Center on Friday are back in custody, according to charging documents. Northstar Center is a minimum-security holding facility located five miles northwest of Fairbanks on the Parks Highway. Alaska State Troopers received a report from facility staff about 11 a.m. that Steven David Luten, 30, of Fairbanks, had left without permission. Luten was last seen running behind a sawmill next to the Blue Loon and towards a group of cabins on Berton Road. Troopers found fresh shoe prints in the snow behind the sawmill and followed them to the front door of one of the cabins. The owner of the cabin consented to a search and Luten was found under a stack of mattresses in a back room, according to charging documents. Luten confirmed his identity and admitted to fleeing the facility and hiding from troopers. Luten was charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree escape. Abel Aguilar, 27, of Fairbanks, walked away from the facility at approximately 11 p.m. Friday and was last seen getting into a dark colored Ford Ranger at the Goldhill Liquor parking lot. He was described as having a lot of tattoos on his neck and was wearing a red shirt, black jacket and blue jeans, according to charging documents. Troopers received a tip Friday evening that Aguilar was seen walking on Geist Road near Fairbanks Street. Troopers responded and found a man matching Augilar’s description walking near the UPS store with another man. Troopers attempted to take Augilar into custody but he fled on foot across Wilcox Street and into a nearby parking lot. Augilar tripped and trooper tackled him to the ground, according to charging documents. Augilar is charged with felony second-degree escape and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Northstar Center is operated by GEO Group, a “leading provider of correctional and detention management and community reentry services to federal, state and local government agencies,” according

Jan 29, 2015 adn.com
Two men Alaska State Troopers say are considered "dangerous" offenders are still on the loose after separately escaping custody in Fairbanks earlier this month, according to trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters. On Jan. 14, 23-year-old Logan Austin was last seen leaving the North Star Center, a halfway house in Fairbanks. One week later, 38-year-old Michael Bracht escaped custody by fleeing from a third-party custodian the same day he was supposed to begin serving a prison sentence. Troopers sent out a release Wednesday saying they were searching for Austin, who had escaped custody by walking away from the North Star Center at 1:05 a.m. on Jan. 14. Troopers received a report of his disappearance at 8 a.m. the same day. The North Star Center is considered a community residential center by the Department of Corrections, but is more commonly known as a halfway house. Unlike a "hard facility" or prison, residents are allowed to come and go for work or to volunteer and are expected to make the choice to return. According to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle, staff at the North Star Center does have a "duty" to prevent an escape, but are not permitted to use force or chase potential escapees. "That duty is limited to monitoring where an offender is; surveillance within the facility (video monitoring throughout the facility); random spot checks in the community, for those furloughed, who are allowed to leave the facility; and controlled access," Daigle wrote in an email. Daigle said staff is required to act as a witness and to report the incident. "Staff frequently attempt to convince people who do walk away that it is a bad choice," Daigle wrote. Austin had been charged with theft earlier this month, according to online court records, and is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and 160 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. It is unknown what type of clothing he might be wearing or the direction he may be traveling, troopers said. Meanwhile, Bracht also remained at large Wednesday following his escape last week. Bracht had been the suspect in a 10-hour-long armed standoff and high-speed chase in September. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported he had taken a plea deal in that case, and had been sentenced to 32 months in prison shortly before his escape. As part of his plea agreement, Bracht had been released to a third-party custodian for 12 hours to take care of personal affairs before serving his sentence. Troopers said Bracht ran from his custodian around 6:45 p.m. As of Wednesday morning, Peters said Bracht was still "unaccounted for." Anyone with information on Austin's whereabouts is asked to call troopers at 907-451-5100. Anyone with information on Bracht is urged to call 911 and not to attempt to contact him.

Parkview Community Center
Anchorage, Alaska
Cornell
May 22, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
One of Anchorage's four halfway houses is scheduled to shut down by July 1, a loss of about 25 percent of the beds available here for housing low-risk inmates. The Legislature directed the Department of Corrections to close Parkview Community Center when it eliminated roughly $2.5 million from the department's halfway house funding. Parkview is managed by Cornell Companies of Alaska Inc. Its contract with the department for that facility expires July 1, said Portia Parker, corrections deputy commissioner. On the surface, the shutdown is puzzling: Aren't our jails and prisons overcrowded? And aren't some 800 Alaskans currently imprisoned Outside because there isn't room for them here? All that is true, Parker said. The Legislature increased the corrections budget by 11 percent overall to deal with prison crowding, and cuts somewhere else had to be made. Halfway houses are "the one area where ... we did have some room," Parker said. They aren't all always full, she said.

Red Rock Correctional Facility
Eloy, Arizona
CCA

October 20, 2011 Anchorage Press
Early this month the Alaska Supreme Court dished a helping of Oh-no-you-didn't to the state department of Corrections. The department lost the appeal of an inmate who, back in 2007, was punished with twenty days of "punitive segregation"-twenty days in the hole-at Red Rocks Correctional Center in Elroy, Arizona. The court found Joseph James was punished as a result of proceedings in a privately owned correctional facility that ignored his rights to due process. James was accused of threatening two people with bodily harm, but was not allowed to questions his accuser. In fact, the staff member who initially accused James of making threats did not write the report that resulted in James' segregation. A second officer did that. James appealed his segregation and got a hearing, inside Red Rocks, but the hearing was not recorded and even the author of the report did not attend along with the hearing officer. James appealed to the Alaska Superior Court, so by the time the state had an attorney on their (ultimately losing) side of the case, James was able to spank Corrections without even the benefit of an attorney. The court recognized that sometimes prisoners, unlike free people charged with crimes in the United States, don't always have the right to face their accuser. An inmate, the court decision says, "is not entitled to the full panoply of rights due an accused in a criminal proceeding." That's because prison authorities need to maintain order. They have what the courts called "substantial institutional interest" in maintaining order. But the James case was different for several reasons. One was that James' punishment, solitary confinement, was among the most severe punishments a prisoner could have. (Courts have also called revocation of good-time credit "severe punishment" as well.) The Red Rocks employees claimed James' alleged actions called for only a minor disciplinary hearing, so they went about James' disciplinary action and appeal without allowing James to question his original accuser. The court found that severe punishment was evidence of a serious infraction. They've previously found that during an administrative appeal, an inmate has a due process right to face their accuser if the infraction was serious. A single hearing officer met with James when he protested his segregation -but James told the court system that hearing was not recorded. The hearing officer had the report about the alleged infraction, but the author of the report was not present. During James' appeal to a state Superior Court, the state told the court system the recording "was no longer available"-given the various missteps any layman can watch the state's case erode while reading the Alaska Supreme Court's 21-page opinion. One footnote in the Supreme Court opinion says, "it is troubling" the state implied an audio recording "had been misplaced or perhaps destroyed, when in fact, no such recording existed." (A Corrections official referred the Press to an attorney in the Department of Law, but the lawyer was not available Monday or Tuesday, the latter a state holiday.)

September 27, 2009 Alaska Dispatch
After 15 years of managing Alaska prisoners housed out-of-state, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has lost its contract to Cornell Corrections. Cornell's will charge the state about $19,446,000 a year to house 900 prisoners, while CCA's plan would have cost $18,724,000 -- $722,000 less a year. Either way the state will realize savings over the $20,669,000 it now pays through a contract with CCA. The 770 inmates serving time at CCA's Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona will be moved late this year to Cornell's Hudson Correctional Facility in Colorado, a 1,250-bed center now under construction. The move -- via special U.S. Marshals Service planes -- is expected to cost Alaska more than $200,000, Alaska Department of Corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz said. The Department of Corrections denied a protest of the award filed by CCA attorneys, who said they won't launch further appeal. In the protest, CCA attorneys Charles Cole -- a former Alaska Attorney General -- and Stephen Williams argued that Cornell Corrections of Alaska lacks the basic experience the state requires, and that a preference system for Alaska-based bidders was misused. Cornell's bid was more costly than CCA's for the three-year term, but a proposal evaluation panel awarded Cornell's plan more points because of the company's status as an Alaska entity. Points matter as a committee rates the proposals in several categories. According to CCA's protest, the company gained more points than Cornell in five other evaluation categories. In denying the protest, the state said Cornell Alaska qualifies for two perks as an in-state company -- a bidder's preference and an offeror's preference -- and that Cornell meets experience standards. CCA's attorneys argue that Cornell's Alaska enterprise manages halfway house centers and lacks experience housing federal prisoners. In its bid, Cornell turned to its parent company, based in Houston, as the qualified service provider. CCA's attorneys took issue with the state awarding Alaska preferences to a business that would turn the contract over to its Texas parent company to manage. Alaska has contracted with CCA since 1994 to house sentenced prisoners out of state. Currently, 770 Alaska inmates are serving time away. Most have at least year-long sentences. Meantime, the $240 million, 1,536-bed Goose Creek Correctional Center is scheduled to open in 2012 at Point MacKenzie. The medium-security men's facility, which is expected to alleviate Alaska's prison space shortage, is being funded through bonds issued by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The state will pay off the bonds by leasing the facility from the borough, and will take ownership once the bill is settled. Cornell has tried for years to solidify support for a private prison in Alaska, and became wrapped up in a far-reaching probe into political corruption. The company's lobbyist, Bill Bobrick, pleaded guilty on charges he tried to bribe Rep. Tom Anderson--who is now serving time in federal prison himself-- to advocate for a private prison. Cornell was not implicated.

January 27, 2009 KTVA
Alaska has a long history with tuberculosis. Over the years state and federal governments have declared an all out war against the disease. Health experts say they have it under control, but one rural family disagrees. The eye-team investigates how an Alaskan inmate could have died from the disease while behind bars. Tuberculosis, or TB, used to be a huge problem in our state, but health experts say now, it is pretty well under control. So why, if TB is under control did the disease kill an Alaskan inmate behind bars in Arizona? It is a question his family is desperately trying to find an answer to. TB attacks the lungs and nervous system. It is spread through the air when people who have the disease cough, sneeze, or spit. "Occasionally villages will have an outbreak where quite a few people get exposed and go on the INH treatment, but it is pretty rare in the United States for someone to die from it," says Department of Corrections Clinical Director Dr. Rebecca Bingham. But one family disagrees. They know the disease can kill, because it killed 26-year-old Joseph Alexie while he was behind bars within the Alaska Department of Corrections. "That Friday, he went in for a checkup, and that evening those doctors called me and told me that they cleaned him out and he was sleeping, and he did have TB," says Joseph's mother Lizzy Alexie, "That whole week, he didn't wake up. They called me everyday and told me how he was doing and that one day, they told me they were giving him 48 hours to live, and that's when I started crying." Alexie died December 9, 2008, on is daughter's 5th birthday, while incarcerated at Red Rock correctional center in Arizona. Red Rock is the facility the Alaska Department of Corrections has a contract with to house Alaskan inmates. He was sent to jail for burglary and attempted sexual assault. His family says no matter what his crimes, he should not have died behind bars from a controllable and treatable disease. "He always had a smile on his face," says his aunt Evelyn Colley, "His last words to me were that he loved me very much. He said I love you just lots." Even though he was exposed to TB as a little boy, Joseph's family says he never should have died from it. "He kept going and trying to get checked up, but they kept sending him away telling him it was bronchitis, or this or that, and they were just giving him a wrong diagnosis every time, without really giving him any medical attention." Says Myra Colley, Joseph Alexie's cousin. Though they are bound by federal laws not to talk about the health of specific inmates, the clinical director for DOC told us, if they would have known an inmate was that sick, they would have treated him. "He was found too late," says Dr. Bingham, "When he finally came to medical and said he was coughing and did not feel well, he had already, apparently, been sick for a while without probably realizing that." But, in the weeks leading up to his death Joseph Alexie's family says he called them and said he was not feeling well. They say he even asked that they send him his medical records that document his history with t-b. "Joseph made attempts to get help long before his condition worsened," says his aunt. His cousin agrees. "He had a feeling it was TB. He kept going and trying to get checked up, but they kept sending him away telling him it was bronchitis, or this or that, and they were just giving him a wrong diagnosis every time," says Colley. The family says they are not the only ones who think Joseph's medical condition was not handled properly. After Joseph died his mother got a call from a fellow inmate in Arizona, saying the Arizona medical staff did not do enough to treat him. "He told me, you know, it's not right, it wasn't right," says his mother. Though they are bound by law not to talk about the details of the case, officials with the DOC say Joseph didn't tell anyone he was feeling bad in time "He was found too late," says Dr. Bingham, "When he finally came to medical and said he was coughing and didn't feel well, he had already, apparently, been sick for a while without probably realizing it. He was put in the hospital and treated as aggressively as possible, but apparently, we are not quite sure why he died. It is an unusual thing to happen." At least five new positive TB skin tests have come up, but the state says there is no outbreak. When someone has a positive TB skin test it does not necessarily mean they have the disease, only that they have been exposed to it, and have the antibodies. "We tested everybody that was around him. They had five conversations, and they are all on medication and they are fine without symptoms," says Dr. Bingham, "We tested everybody that was transferred up here from down there, and we have not had anybody that is positive up here." So far, no one else has gotten sick. As for Joseph Alexie's family, they say they wont get over his loss. "We are the same age. He is only 26," says Myra Colley, "He has a daughter just like I do. "With him leaving when he did not even have to. Tuberculosis is so treatable. There is no reason anybody should die of tuberculosis. It's just so unfair." Even though Joseph Alexie was in Arizona when he died, he was governed by Alaska Department of Corrections health standards. The DOC medical officials say any inmate with a positive skin test will receive treatment to suppress the disease. It can take six weeks to two to three months for a TB case to turn positive, and we are told that the inmates that have been exposed to TB will be tested again in three months. Joseph Alexie was set to get out of jail this June.

January 14, 2009 Eloy Enterprise
Two Alaskan inmates at the Red Rock Correctional Facility owned by private prison company Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) in Eloy, were air-vac'd to the Casa Grande Regional Center last Thursday evening with serious injuries after the two were involved in an inmate-on-inmate assault. According to CCA officials, inmate Darrin Jones attacked fellow inmate Larry Mikell with an unknown weapon as Mikell entered the Fox Bravo Housing Pod Unit at the prison at approx. 5:50 p.m. The assault initiated a free-for-all among another half a dozen prisoners retaliating against Mikell's assailant. The incident was contained to the one housing unit by responding staff and quelled within approximately eight minutes. Currently, the Alaskan population at the facility remains on lockdown status while CCA continues to investigate the cause of the incident. As of press time, the wounded Alaskan inmates were still under hospital care.

January 10, 2009 Anchorage Daily News
A prison shanking followed by an attack with a weighted sock at an Arizona prison Thursday evening spurred a brawl among Alaska prisoners that ended with two convicted murderers hospitalized with serious injuries, according to the Alaska Department of Corrections and local police. Prison officials say Darin Jones, 41, attacked Larry Mikell, 27, at about 5:50 p.m., prompting a group of other prisoners to join the fracas in a unit housing Alaska prisoners at Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz. The disturbance was caught on video, which police in Eloy, Ariz., were examining in their investigation, said Capt. Shane Blakeman. "It was pretty clear that the guy named Jones actually stabbed Mikell," Blakeman said. "Once that happened, there was another inmate that had a sock with something inside the sock, and he challenged Jones and he actually hit Jones in the head with that sock." That's when Mikell's friends jumped in to protect him, he said. Both men were taken to Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix to be treated for serious injuries, said Alan Bailey, special assistant to the state Department of Corrections commissioner. They were in stable condition Friday, he said. The motive behind the initial stabbing was not immediately clear. "It looked like it was unprovoked, like the guy just came up to him and stabbed him," Blakeman said. Prison officials say no other inmates were injured in the subsequent uprising that appeared "protective" in nature. The inmate wielding the sock was not named. The dispute took place in a unit that holds about 60 of Alaska's 878 prisoners who are housed in Red Rock, Bailey said. Following the fight, which was quickly quelled, all Alaska inmates were restricted to their units until the investigation was complete, he said. Those involved would be placed in administrative segregation, Bailey said. "We're going to take all precautions necessary to ensure the safety of any participants," Bailey said. "We cannot allow that kind of behavior to go on." Blakeman said no charges have yet been filed. An Alaska corrections official is also heading south to conduct an independent investigation, Bailey said. Officials at Red Rock did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

January 9, 2009 Anchorage Daily News
A brawl broke out among Alaska prisoners in an Arizona prison Thursday evening, leaving two of the antagonists, both convicted murderers, hospitalized with serious injuries, according to the Alaska Department of Corrections. Prison officials say Darrin Jones attacked Larry Mikell at about 5:50 p.m., prompting about a half-dozen other prisoners to jump in the fracas in a unit housing only Alaska prisoners at Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., a private prison under contract to house Alaska inmates.

January 7, 2009 Eloy Enterprise
At approximately 11:30 a.m. local time, a disturbance occurred in the South Special Housing unit at the Eloy Detention Center. Some unit staff members in the housing unit were assaulted by furniture that was thrown at them during the incident. The assailants then began to cause property damage in the housing area with the active participation of other detainees. The disturbance was immediately contained to the one housing unit by responding staff and quelled within the hour. Approved chemical agents were utilized by staff to enforce lawful orders for active participants to cease their actions and return to their cells. At the time of the incident, there were approximately 34 ICE detainees assigned to the Special Housing unit. An investigation is underway to identify the assailants and all active participants, as well as to determine the cause for the incident. Further details are pending the outcome of those efforts. Following standard procedures, the entire facility has been placed on lockdown status, meaning that detainees are restricted to their housing cells until further notice. "We would commend CCA for their professionalism in getting a handle on the situation very quickly, and preventing something more serious from happening," ICE Public Affairs Officer Vincent Picard commented early last week. Surrounding CCA facilities were called to assist during the incident and the Eloy Police Department and EMS were notified. According to Eloy paramedics who arrived on scene with two ambulances, only one officer was reportedly injured, and was treated in-house at CCA's Saguaro facility for a bump on the head, and sent to the Casa Grande Regional Hospital as a precautionary measure.

February 22, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i inmates at the Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona have been locked down for 10 days during a top-to-bottom shakedown of the prison prompted by two recent drug overdoses of Alaska inmates, according to the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety. About 65 Hawai'i inmates are housed at the private prison, but are kept separate from the Alaska prisoners, said Public Safety Deputy Director Tommy Johnson. Teams provided by prison owner Corrections Corporation of America used drug dogs as part of the search of all staff, program, recreational, medical, kitchen and living areas. Investigators discovered three grams of black tar heroin and a list detailing prices within the prison for cigarettes, marijuana and other drugs, Johnson said. The drugs were found in a part of the prison occupied by Alaska prisoners, and no Hawaii inmates were involved in any illegal drug activity, he said. Three Alaska inmates were placed in disciplinary segregation for introducing contraband. Johnson said CCA investigators suspect the drugs were being smuggled into the 1,596-bed prison via the mail, and have tightened up on mail room procedures. The prison is expected to return to normal operations Monday.

September 23, 2007 Daily News-Miner
The Eloy Police Department has ruled out natural causes as the cause of death of an Alaskan inmate found unresponsive in his cell at the Red Rock Correctional Center 25 miles south of Phoenix, said Capt. Shane Blakeman. Results from toxicology tests on 36-year-old Rusty Hightower of Fairbanks are weeks away, said Blakeman, whose agency is leading the death investigation. Hightower was serving a life sentence for murder for shooting and killing cab driver Dale Baurick, 23, during a robbery April 1, 1988, near McGrath Road, according to the Alaska Department of Corrections and News-Miner stories from the late 1980s. Hightower’s cell mate found him dead in their room after coming back from dinner Monday night, according to Eloy police. Hightower’s body showed no signs of trauma, Blakeman said. An autopsy last week confirmed that Hightower suffered no physical trauma, Blakeman said in an e-mail. James West, who was in regular telephone contact with Hightower, his brother, said he knew of nothing unusual going on with the inmate. “That kid was healthier than crap,” said West, who saw his brother last year. The Corrections Corp. of America, owner of the newly-built Red Rock facility, is keeping quiet on the matter until Hightower’s cause of death is determined. “Pending some resolution as to the cause of death, we feel it would be premature and inappropriate to comment on these matters at this time,” company spokesman Steven Owen wrote in an e-mail. The Alaska Department of Corrections has sent an official to Arizona to monitor the probe and to make sure the Corrections Corp. of America is adhering to its contract with the state, said Richard Schmitz, corrections department spokesman.

September 19, 2007 AP
A Fairbanks man in prison for killing a cabdriver 19 years ago was found dead in his cell at the Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona. It is not yet known how Rusty Hightower, 36, died, said Capt. Shane Blakeman of the Eloy Police Department, the agency investigating the death. According to authorities, Hightower’s cell mate found the body Monday evening after returning to the cell from dinner. Efforts to revive him failed, police spokeswoman Amanda Villescaz said Wednesday. “There was no sign of a struggle or anything,” Blakeman said. “We’re waiting for the autopsy report to tell us what exactly he died from.” Villescaz said an autopsy was expected to be completed by Thursday.

Whittier
Whittier, Alaska
Cornell

August 12, 2008 Anchorage Daily News
Bill Weimar, who made his fortune off private halfway houses in Alaska, pleaded guilty Monday to two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. He admitted his role in a conspiracy to secretly funnel money to a political consultant for an unnamed state Senate candidate, knowing the candidate would back a private prison if he won. Weimar had a long-standing relationship with the candidate running in the 2004 primary, a charging document filed Monday said. Weimar held a "contingent interest" in a private prison project worth $5.5 million, but only if the project was completed, the charges say. He faces prison time in the plea deal and may have to forfeit "certain property." Prosecutors estimate a sentence of 10 to 16 months. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick isn't bound to that. He set sentencing for Oct. 29. Weimar, who owned Allvest Inc., becomes the 11th person charged in the broad, ongoing investigation by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice into political corruption in Alaska. Weimar, 68, now lives in Big Arm, Mont. At the brief hearing on Monday, Weimar answered the judge's routine questions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini outlined the two charges: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, and illegally manipulating currency transactions to avoid reporting them to the Treasury Department. Weimar has admitted paying the consultant a total of $20,000 during the primary in August 2004 to cover expenses for the candidate, without reporting the payments and without routing them through the campaign. How do you plead? Sedwick asked. "Guilty," Weimar answered, to each charge. LAWMAKER NOT NAMED -- For years, Weimar pushed plans for a private prison in Alaska, but the project was always controversial and no prison was ever built. A Democratic activist in the 1970s, Weimar later became close to the Republicans who controlled the Alaska Legislature. Neither the Senate candidate nor the consultant -- both accused of conspiring with Weimar -- is named in the charging document. Prosecutors declined to expand on it Monday. But the candidate described in the documents, and in court Monday, appears to be former state Sen. Jerry Ward. He didn't return phone calls or e-mail messages on Monday. Ward, a Republican elected from Anchorage in 1996 and the Kenai Peninsula in 2000, fervently pushed private prison projects as a legislator. The charging document says the candidate running in 2004 had a long relationship with Weimar, and held elected office part of that time. Ward and Weimar were "buddies," according to a statement that former lobbyist Bill Bobrick, who worked for Weimar, gave to the FBI in September 2006. Bobrick also has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation. He declined to comment on Monday. In 1997, a plan for a private prison in South Anchorage with Allvest and Veco Corp. as partners crumbled under strong public opposition. As that project evaporated, Ward emerged as the lead architect of a new plan to build private prisons in the Mat-Su and Seward. "By God, this really solves the problem," Weimar was quoted as saying at the time. In 2001, Ward signed on as the only Senate sponsor of a House bill pushing a private prison on the Kenai. The charging document against Weimar doesn't say whether the candidate won in 2004 and does not call the person a legislator. Ward lost his seat in 2002 to Tom Wagoner. He was trying to regain it in 2004, but lost in the Republican primary to Wagoner. SEATTLE CONSULTANT -- In court Monday, Bottini told the judge the consultant was from Seattle. Some of Ward's biggest campaign expenses in 2004 were more than $43,000 in fees charged by Madison Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in suburban Kirkland, Wash. Numerous calls left for Madison principal Brett Bader on Monday were not returned. The charges against Weimar and other court documents quote details of a number of telephone conversations he had with the consultant and the candidate from Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2004. In a telephone conversation on Aug. 17, 2004, the consultant told Weimar that the campaign was having money trouble, court documents say. "I'm worried we're reaching the limit now. I don't know where we find 10 grand unless (Candidate A) can get more in," the consultant said "There's no legal way to do that. At least not on that scale," Weimar responded. Later that day, Weimar arranged to cover the next advertising mailer for the candidate, and told the candidate so, the document says. On Aug. 20, 2004, Weimar told the candidate of an unpaid invoice of $20,000 with the consultant. The candidate's campaign funds were depleted, the charges say. The candidate said he had only $300 to $400 left in his account. On Aug. 23, 2004, Weimar made arrangements with the consultant to pay off the debt, the charges say. He then called the candidate and told him "he would not be receiving any further bills from Consultant A," the charging document says. Weimar sent the consulting company a $3,000 check on Aug. 23, 2004, then sent $8,500 in cash that same day by express mail, and another $8,500 cash the day after, the charges say. "WE'VE MOVED ON" -- The charges also do not name the private prison company, but Cornell Corrections Inc. tried to build a prison in various Alaska communities, including Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier. The charging document describes the unnamed company's Alaska interests as halfway houses, a planned juvenile treatment center, and a private prison project, and that matches Cornell's interests. In 1998, in the midst of planning for a private prison in Delta Junction, Weimar sold five Alaska halfway houses to Cornell for $21 million. He also formed a partnership with Cornell to pursue the Delta prison and subsequent deals for a private facility. One goal of the conspiracy was to get the private prison company to give campaign contributions to the candidate to help win election, according to the charges. A spokesman for Cornell said the company was unaware of the charges but supports the prosecution. The executives now in charge of Cornell weren't there at the time of the events that involved Weimar, spokesman Charles Seigel said Monday. Company records don't show any evidence of wrongdoing, he added. "We've moved on and we are very different and have it behind us," Seigel said. Cornell also has not pursued a private prison in Alaska for years and is no longer interested in that, he said. "We're glad this investigation is going on but whatever was going on or may have been going on in the past, that is not the Cornell that exists now, both in the policy on the private prison as we've talked about and in general about the way we do business." By 2004, Veco was no longer involved in the prison project, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, Cornell consultant and FBI informant, has said. ANDERSON INVOLVED -- The failed private prison effort was also central in the government's case against former state Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, now in prison. At Anderson's corruption trial last summer, Prewitt was a key witness who testified at length about his undercover work to collect evidence against Anderson, and also about questionable acts in his own past. From the witness stand, Prewitt said that in 1994 -- when he was corrections commissioner and Weimar owned Allvest -- he accepted $30,000 from Weimar. Prewitt testified that he considered the money a loan, which he repaid the next year, after he left his state post, by working four months for Allvest for free. Weimar helped start Allvest in 1985, then bought out his partners and turned it into a multimillion dollar corporation with operations in Alaska and Washington state. Its government contracts were worth an estimated $10 million a year. Allvest also operated a lab that did contract urinalysis work, and used to run the city's Animal Control Center and the Community Service Patrol. In 2002, Allvest was forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid judgments in civil suits against the company. The bankruptcy case eventually was settled.

October 9, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
When FBI agents searched the Wasilla office of Rep. Vic Kohring on Aug. 31, they weren't just looking for documents related to Veco Corp., its executives and ties to lawmakers. They also wanted information about developer Marc Marlow as well as the state Department of Corrections. That element of the ongoing FBI investigation emerged last week when Kohring's attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross, provided a copy of the search warrant to the Daily News, along with the list of items taken. Those documents, though lacking detail or context, suggest that the probe is wide-ranging and not focused on any one company, issue or individual. No one has been charged in the investigation, and federal authorities have declined to discuss it except to say that it continues. The lead prosecutors are from the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which often handles government corruption cases. In all, offices of six lawmakers have been searched, along with Veco offices and additional undisclosed locations. Other lawmakers whose offices weren't searched have said they were interviewed by the FBI. The warrant also sought all correspondence between Kohring and the Alaska Department of Corrections. Ross said Kohring was questioned by the FBI about efforts to build a private prison in Whittier. "He indicated it was a facility that Cornell was hoping to build in the past and that's apparently all they asked about that," Ross said. Cornell Cos. had teamed with Veco in the private prison endeavor, which ultimately died last year after the city of Whittier dropped its support. Along with those of Kohring and Stevens, FBI agents searched offices of Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage; Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome; Rep. Pete Kott, R-Eagle River; and Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R- Juneau. Messages left for them were not returned. Kohring is the only one of the six still facing an election battle in November. Kott lost in the primary, Stevens and Weyhrauch aren't running again and the others aren't up this year. What's known: • Dozens of FBI agents executed about two dozen search warrants Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, though in some cases individuals agreed to the search. • Six legislative offices were searched, and so was Veco Corp. Searches were conducted in Anchorage, Juneau, Eagle River, Wasilla, Willow and Girdwood. The office of Senate President Ben Stevens was then searched a second time, on Sept. 18. • One search warrant, provided by Sen. Donny Olson, said the FBI was looking for "any and all documents" related to Veco, four of its executives and two political pollsters, as well as information on Olson Air Service, among other matters. When agents searched Stevens' office, they seized materials related to controversial fisheries organizations. In the search of Rep. Vic Kohring's office, agents also sought information on developer Marc Marlow and on the state Department of Corrections. • The lead prosecutors on the case are from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., which handles public corruption cases. • No one has been charged. What's not known: • Perhaps the biggest of the many unanswered questions is this: Who or what is being targeted? • Authorities also won't say how many FBI agents or prosecutors are working on the investigation, when it began, when it might end or how they are proceeding.

September 7, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
For two decades, oil man and political financier Bill Allen has been a familiar presence in the halls of the Alaska Capitol. But toward the end of this year's regular legislative session, the Veco chief executive may have taken that familiarity a step too far. Allen was watching the state House debate oil taxes on the next-to-last night of business in May when he began passing notes to legislators across the railing of the small spectator gallery, according to Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage. Rules say the public can pass notes through the front door to be delivered by a page. Direct engagement from the visitor gallery is forbidden once the speaker's gavel sounds. Crawford said he saw Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Anchorage, carry several notes from Allen to other legislators. Anderson has received Veco campaign contributions and has also reported $30,000 in consulting contracts with the company since 2003. Several other legislators say their staff observed similar goings-on. "He was definitely directing traffic back there," Crawford said of Allen. Veco's role in Alaska's political process is under intense scrutiny now. Last week the FBI served search warrants on legislative offices and others seeking a wide range of information related to Allen and other Veco executives, including gifts to public officials. But much of Veco's influence, dating from the early 1980s, comes from sources in plain sight. This includes close to $1 million in state and federal campaign contributions over the past decade as well as consulting contracts with individual legislators. Veco's presence in Juneau is distinctive not just for its role in helping finance many campaigns but for the personal role played by Allen and several other company executives. Veco has hired top-drawer professional lobbyists in the past, as it did while pushing for a private prison between 1996 and 2002. But Allen, 69, is known for taking a personal hand in promoting his priorities, in a manner often described as gentlemanly rather than bullying. In 1996, the Legislature added a new twist -- anyone registering as a lobbyist was barred from giving campaign contributions outside his or her home district. The idea was to prevent favor-seeking lobbyists from working a building full of people they'd given money to. Allen spent a lot of time in the Capitol in 2002, pressing the Legislature to pay for a private prison in Whittier (Veco was teamed with a national prison company, Cornell, to build the project) and to authorize a property tax break for construction of a North Slope natural gas pipeline. Allen was in the Capitol so much that APOC ordered him to register as a lobbyist. Allen protested, saying business owners looking out for their own interests should not be treated like professional lobbyists who represent a variety of clients. Allen eventually complied, registering for 2002 and 2003 and reporting his hourly wage as $156.25. That meant he had to forgo writing campaign checks in those years. (Not that candidates were starved for Veco money: Other company officials gave more than $200,000 to state candidates in 2002 alone.)

March 30, 2005 Anchorage Daily News
The city of Whittier is cutting its ties to Cornell Cos., a private corrections operator, finally ending a political battle over new prisons that has held Alaska in gridlock for a decade. The Whittier City Council voted 5-1 last week to drop its three-year effort to win state money for a huge, privately run prison in the isolated port town. A Cornell spokeswoman said that's the end of the line for the Houston-based corrections company. At this point we're not going to be pursuing anything," Cornell communications director Lisa Tauser said. "We're disappointed but we respect their decision." Private prison advocates have been wielding influence in Juneau since 1995, as proposals for private correctional facilities in Anchorage, Delta Junction, Kenai and Whittier found favor among legislators. Two prison deals were approved, and two others made it through the state House. Competing proposals to build state-run facilities were pushed aside. But each private plan eventually died, falling victim to local opposition, resistance from correction-worker unions and skepticism from some state officials. Lurking around each successive plan were complaints about backroom dealing. "What I see, over and over, is repeated sole-source, prearranged, heavy-money deals that go to specific contractors," Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, complained in a hearing last year. "It's never been a clean competitive proposal." History of private prisons in Alaska Plans to build the first private prison in Alaska have set off controversy in recent years: • APRIL 1997: Corrections Group North, a partnership between halfway house operator Allvest and oil field service company Veco, withdraws plans for controversial 768-bed medium-security prison in South Anchorage. Project is scrapped days before city voters reject the plan by a 2-to-1 margin. • JANUARY 1998: Voters in Delta Junction approve plan by Allvest to build 800-bed prison on former Fort Greely Army post. • AUGUST 1998: National prison company Cornell Corrections Inc. buys Allvest for $21 million. • SEPTEMBER 1999: Delta Junction City Council repeals contract with Cornell/Allvest. • OCTOBER 2001: Voters on the Kenai Peninsula defeat a proposal, backed by Cornell, for an 800-bed private prison by a 3-to-1 margin. • MAY 2002: Plan allowing private prison in Whittier, proposed by Cornell, passes House and stalls in Senate during Legislature's closing days.• March 2005: City of Whittier cuts ties to Cornell, and company says it has no plans to pursue a private prison in the state.

May 23, 2002
Plans to build a big private prison in Alaska are dead again.  But private-prison backers say they're willing to try again next year, depending on how things go in the November election. This year's plan for a 1,000-bed prison in Whittier, the fourth such idea to hit the Legislature since 1996, passed the House but stalled in the Senate in the session's final days.  The Legislature did clear up a lingering headache from one of those earlier private prison proposals. Lawmakers agreed in the closing days to give a $1 million no-interest loan to the city of Delta Junction to pay off a legal settlement with Allvest Corp., the private firm that once had teamed with Delta to develop a prison for the state.  But the Knowles administration -- and several key legislators -- preferred an alternative this year that would expand regional prisons and jails. The administration's resistance toughened in the closing days of the session, when Corrections Commissioner Margaret Pugh issued a letter recommending a veto of the Whittier bill.  Cornell will still follow the local debate and continue to run six Alaska halfway houses, said company spokesman Doucette.  Delta Junction is glad to have the $1 million loan, given that the legal settlement was due July 1, said city administrator Pete Hallgren. He said the city has already undertaken a study of forming a local borough, in part as a response to a flood of federal money now reaching the area as part of the national missile defense project being built at nearby Fort Greely.  The former Army post was to have been the site of the private prison. Delta Junction backed out of the deal with Allvest, the principal company in the Delta Correction Group, amid local controversy over a lack of competitive bidding. Allvest sued and won a settlement from the city.  (Anchorage Daily News)

May 21, 2002
Private prison bill Special session resurrection should stay in committee House Bill 498, authorizing a private 1,000-plus-bed prison in Whittier, has come to life again as Senate Bill 2012 in the current special session of the Alaska Legislature.   SB 2012 has been referred to the Rules Committee and then the Finance Committee. If the goal of senators is to further explore the pros and cons -- forgive the pun -- of a private prison in Alaska, fair enough. But that's as far as this legislation should go. As of Monday, lawmakers already were deep into overtime trying to finish their work. And there's still the matter of a special session to consider a constitutional amendment on subsistence.   This is no time to push for a private prison in Alaska.   Whether it's called HB 498 or SB 2012, this bill and previous attempts at private prison projects have been exercises in special interests. The need to increase Alaska's prison capacity is clear, with an inmate population growing by 200 a year, but neither special interests nor the desires of Whittier to boost its economy are reason to rush to approve a private prison -- particularly as a byproduct in a special session.   The burden of proof must be on the backers of a private prison to show why their proposal is beneficial to Alaska beyond the interests of a relatively small group of people who would stand to profit.   They haven't made a convincing case so far, and it won't happen in the waning hours of this session.  (Anchorage Daily News)

May 13, 2002
The Senate Finance Committee on Sunday night approved a bill for a private prison in Whittier.  With just two days left in the regular session, the legislature faced a logjam of bills this morning, from the routine to the historic.  A bill authorizing a government-owned, privately operated 1,000-bed prison in Whittier was approved by the Finance Committee 6-3.  The city would contract with the state, and Cornell Cos. Inc. would contract with the city.  But the Knowles administration favors a more regional approach to increasing jail capacity, said Margot Knuth of the Department of Corrections.  For example, 100 more beds each are needed in Fairbanks and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Knuth said.  "What you need are regional beds where inmates who are pre-trial or who have short sentences can stay."  (The Juneau Empire)

May 13, 2002
House Bill 498 to authorize a private 1,200-bed prison in Whittier appears stuck in the Senate Finance Committee.  Alaska will be better off if it dies there.  Whittier's desire for economic life beyond tourism, boating and its status as a unique light at the end of the tunnel is understandable.  But the state's primary interest is not Whittier's development.  It's the integrity, professionalism and security of its corrections system.  Private prison plans have gotten the boot twice before in Alaska, and legislation for them has been an exercise in special interests looking for a home.  Neither special interests nor the desires of one community are reason enough to approve a private prison.  The need to increase prison capacity is clear.  But HB 498 is not the way to do it.  (Anchorage Daily News) 

May 9, 2002
Last Saturday, a line of just over a dozen cars paid $15 to drive single-file through the Whittier tunnel.  Whittier’s bane used to be its inaccessibility. Now it’s the tunnel.  But if the momentum in the state legislature continues, what Whittier may soon have instead is a 1,000-bed prison, the largest in the state – so big that it would dwarf Whittier’s scant population. The prison would be owned by Whittier, built by Veco Construction, and run by Cornell Companies, a private, for-profit prison firm.  Cornell, whose finances the Wall Street Journal recently likened to Enron’s, has been down this road before. The company tried to build a private prison in South Anchorage, Delta Junction and Kenai before coming to Whittier. All of its previous efforts failed, as well as its overtures to Wrangell and Ketchikan, at least in part because, given a say, a lot of residents weren’t thrilled about having a big private prison in their backyards, even in a big backyard. Mayor Ben Butler says that’s not a problem in Whittier. Cornell Companies, his erstwhile partner, says the solution is simple: just don’t give people a say.   About 670 Alaskans are currently incarcerated in a private prison in Florence, Arizona. If nothing else, the Whittier proposal would bring them home – although, says Rep. Eric Croft, "Whittier is almost as remote as Arizona."   Cornell and Veco are lobbying heavily for a private prison in Whittier. To that end, they’ve retained Kent Dawson, Mark Higgins and Joe Hayes, heavy hitters in the capitol. The Whittier bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Eldon Mulder, the house finance chair. Mulder’s wife, Wendy, works for Hayes. Croft, who’s against the Whittier project, says he finds that "disturbing" and "almost beautiful in a corrupt sort of way."   People from Anchorage and Girdwood will come to Whittier for $13-an-hour jobs, said Cornell spokesman Paul Doucette. And if that doesn’t work, Doucette says they can hire from Outside. Not likely, says Louise Green. She’s the vice president for marketing at Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s biggest private prison contractor, which runs the private prison where Alaska inmates are housed in Arizona. "They definitely won’t be bringing people up from the Lower 48 to live in Whittier," Green said. Staffing is just one hurdle. Management and Training Corporation (MTC), another leading private prison contractor, didn’t bid on the Whittier project because they thought the site was inadequate. Both MTC marketing manager Mike Murphy and CCA senior director of business development Kevin Ashburn said that the first things private prison contractors look for is an adequate pool of potential employees, and infrastructure: water supply, sewer systems, and nearby health and fire facilities. Whittier has none of that, says state Department of Corrections strategic planning coordinator Margot Knuth. "Of all of the proposals I’ve seen, this is the worst," she said at recent state senate hearing. "It requires a level of sophistication that Whittier doesn’t have. It worries me and it should worry you. We could have a hundred-million-dollar embarrassment on our hands."  The way to prevent that is a feasibility study, says CCA’s Ashburn. Cornell, said Ashburn, has "probably done a feasibility study. I’m sure they would have. That should come first."   No, said Cornell’s Doucette: No feasibility study.  But having a relatively uniformed, or quiescent, citizenry seems to be part of Cornell’s plan. When Cornell was courting Ketchikan, Frank Prewitt, a Cornell executive, and former Alaska DOC commissioner, sent an email to Ketchikan real estate agents telling them how to expedite the prison proposal. They needed to "select a local government entity that is legally able, and politically willing, to sell revenue bonds without a public vote," Prewitt wrote.  Under the current plan, Whittier will sell revenue bonds to help finance the private prison. Will the people of Whittier vote on that?   No, says Butler. "It’s not a requirement," he said. "Because it’s not going to cost the citizens of Whittier anything."  (The Anchorage Press)

April 30, 2002
A bill clearing the way for a 1,000-bed private prison in Whittier was passed in the House on Monday.  The House voted 24-14 for the measure, which calls for the state to contract with the city of Whittier to house state inmates.  Whittier would contract with Cornell Cos. Inc. to build and operate the prison.  Opponents said Whittier won't be easy for rural residents to visit.  If the concern is rehabilitation, they said, inmates should be brought home to prisons nearer their own communities.  This is the fourth time a private prison proposal has come up in the Legislature.  Previous efforts, including one in Kenai last year, were derailed by community opposition.  Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, objected to the sole-source selection process.  He said he has seen four private prison proposals since 1996, with different justifications each time.  But each time it involved the same private prison company, he said, "with the same powerful, influential people pushing it."  "This is not about privatization.  This is about getting a lot of money to one entity," Croft said.  "We wouldn't do this buying 1,000 pencils.  But we're going to do it with hundreds of millions of dollars."  (Anchorage Daily News) 

April 17, 2002
A bill calling for a private prison to be built in Whittier now also calls for expanding a public prison in Bethel. The measure passed the House Finance Committee on Tuesday. The change could broaden support for the bill, although the administration and some legislators still don't like it. The bill's chief backer, Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, said he added the 96-bed expansion at Bethel because that seemed to be the highest priority for the Department of Corrections.  Lawmakers are looking at several competing prison proposals. Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, is sponsoring a bill that would have 11 cities and boroughs float $190 million in bonds to build or expand prisons and lease them to the state. The state would pay $72 million annually to operate the prisons and make lease payments to the communities.   The Knowles administration proposes to sell $117 million bonds to add 563 beds to prisons in Palmer, Bethel, Fairbanks and Seward and design future prison expansions. The Department of Corrections has opposed the private prison bill. Language stating that the Legislature intends to spend no more than $89 to $91 a day on the Whittier prison is not binding, and the actual cost could be higher, Knuth has said.  (Anchorage Daily News)

March 26, 2002
The Alaska Legislature has repeatedly tried to open the door for profit-making prisons in the state. Each time prison industry lobbyists have persuaded state lawmakers to give the idea a whirl, local opposition has stymied the project.   The private prison industry refuses to give up, though. And it has a powerful patron in House Finance Committee Chair Eldon Mulder, whose wife works for a prison industry lobbyist.  Privatizing an important public safety function like prisons makes no more sense than hiring Pinkerton security guards to replace state troopers. A private outfit can undercut the price of a state-run prison or state cops, but the lower cost is made possible by our settling for lower quality and less professionalism.  Alaska definitely needs more space in its jails and prisons. It's an embarrassment to have to send 800 inmates thousands of miles away to a private prison in another state. The Legislature ought to give up its obsession with building a private megaprison and support a more practical regional expansion plan.  (Anchorage Daily News/Opinion)

March 6, 2002
A House committee looked at a plan Tuesday to build a large private prison in Whittier, while a Senate committee took up a competing proposal to expand state-run prisons around the state.   Frank Prewitt, a consultant for Cornell Companies, said that firm's proposal for a 1,200-bed private prison in Whittier would cost $44 a day less than a Knowles' administration plan to expand existing prisons and jails.  Administration officials said they're not sure Prewitt used the right variables in comparing state and private proposals, but they could not be certain without further analyzing his numbers.  Marvin Wiebe, senior vice president for governmental affairs at Cornell Companies, said the firm can do the job for less than the state partly by providing less space for prisoners and paying employees less.   Also, it's more economical to put 1,200 prisoners in one place than to add space to prisons around the state, Wiebe said.   Compensation, including benefits, will total $36,000 for a beginning correctional officer with no experience, Wiebe said.   The state, by contrast, pays its beginning correctional officers about $48,400 with benefits, said Bruce Richards, a special assistant in the Corrections Department.   This is the third time the Legislature has considered a private prison. It approved previous proposals for private prisons in Delta Junction and then in Kenai, but both fell apart in the face of community opposition.  The Senate State Affairs Committee took its first look Tuesday at an alternative proposal, Senate Bill 336. The Knowles administration bill calls for floating a $117 million bond to add 563 beds to prisons in Palmer, Bethel, Fairbanks and Seward and design future prison expansions.  "I think it's a wise use of state funds," said Steve Sweet of Fairbanks. "I think it's important for family members to be close to inmates for visitation rights."  (Anchorage Daily News)

January 24, 2002
Frank Prewitt neglected to list his full credentials in his bio following his Jan. 22 article in the Empire. If a used car salesman did what Frank Prewitt just did, he would be fired for his lack of ethics. Yes, Cornell salesman Frank Prewitt, the "former commissioner for the Department of Corrections" who was fired from that post by Gov. Walter Hickel, neglected to say that he is much more than a former commissioner and "practicing attorney" in Anchorage. Mr. Prewitt is a full-time employee of one of the largest campaign contributors in Alaska, Cornell Corrections.  (Bill Rogers/The Public Safety Employees Association)

January 14, 2002
The seeds of Alaska's first private prison may have found fertile soil in the economically barren city of Whittier.   On Dec. 21, a 6-0 vote by Whittier's city council selected Cornell Cos., based in Houston to plan, promote, design, construct and operate a minimum 800-bed medium security correctional facility. Not selected was Corrections Corp. of America, which operates a facility in Florence, Ariz., where about 800 Alaska prisoners are incarcerated because of a shortage of bed space in Alaska prisons.   Whittier's interest in a private prison came after 73 percent of Kenai Peninsula Borough voters gave the Cornell-led project the cold shoulder Oct. 2.   "We thought that was about as strange as it could be," Whittier Mayor Ben Butler said. "So we thought Whittier should give it a try, and we started the process."   He said Whittier views the prison as a way to save a "dying community."   "We are not trying to debate the philosophical reasons between a private- and a state-operated prison," Butler said. "What we're trying to do is get some economic development going in this town."   Paul Doucette, Cornell's public relations spokesperson in Houston, said Cornell stood ready to work with Whittier. He described the project as a 1,200-bed medium security prison, larger than the 800-bed facility approved by the Whittier council.   Despite voting for the partnership with Cornell, Whittier city council member Arlen Arneson doesn't support the project.   "The majority of (Whittier) people won't 'fess up to it, but 60 to 70 percent of them are against the prison, too," he said. "The simple reason is that the ordinance was written to exclude a public vote. ...   There's no public vote. Not even an advisory vote."   Arneson also voiced concern over lack of a feasibility study.   However, Butler said, "We don't have any problems with thinking the prison isn't feasible. The contractor will do a site evaluation and that will be a feasibility study."   In 1998, the Legislature authorized the creation of a private prison by the city of Delta Junction at abandoned U.S. Army facilities at Fort Greely. Corrections Group North, formed by Cornell and Weimar Investments, worked with Delta Junction on that project. Pete Hallgren, the executive director of Delta Junction's department of economic development and the city administrator, said a $75,000 feasibility study "indicated that there wasn't anywhere near enough money appropriated under the enabling legislation to make it financially feasible."   Constructing the private prison was not pursued, lawsuits were filed, and Hallgren said, "We came out of the project defending against a lawsuit by the proposed prison operator. We ended up settling the case for $1.1 million."   Delta Junction has paid $100,000. The remaining $1 million is due July 1.   "It's more money than we've got," Hallgren said.   Jeff Sinz, finance director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, said the borough invested $75,000 in the project that was ultimately rejected by voters.  (Alaska Daily News)

November 15, 2001
Whittier would seem to be ahead of Ketchikan and Wrangell as the three towns vie for a possible private prison development that would house 800 Alaskans now incarcerated out of state.  Frank Prewitt, a consultant for the Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc., wrote last month that Ketchikan political leaders must act quickly to promote a private prison project and sell revenue bonds without a public vote.  (Daily News)