Tuesday, July 03, 2007

USA v Anderson - Day 7 (Final Version)

U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
Court Calendar for Tuesday, July 3, 2007

9:00 AM 3:06-CR-00099-JWS Judge Sedwick Anchorage Courtroom 3

The Prosecution finished presenting its case today. Things began with Mr. Bottini going through tapes with Mr. Bobrick until 10:19am. Then a withering cross examination by Anderson attorney Paul Stockler that was interrupted for lunch. Bobrick was finally excused at 2:17pm. I'll add more to this later. The other witnesses were relatively brief and I'll try to highlight them and then add to this later tonight.

[Bobrick comments added at the end]

Ken D. Erickson was the next witness. He was the person hired to design the website for the Pacific Publications through which the payments were supposed to channeled from Cornell (though actually from the FBI) to Anderson. He said he set up the website, was paid $1000 of the $2000 he was supposed to be paid. (Stockler later asked him about a check that sounded like it was $4000 but that wasn't clear to me at all what that was.) He also said there were never any articles put up on the site or any advertisements.

Former Health and Human Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson testified about the Certificate of Need Process, basically saying that when the legislature added requirements for C of N for Imaging Centers and Residential Psychiatric Treatment Centers (RPTC), that the state then had to develop standards for evaluating them. Thus, even though everyone supported the Bring the Kids Home program, they couldn't certify and RPTCs until they had standards.

Karen Fink from National Bank of Alaska testified that a check had been cashed by Tom Anderson, not deposited in his account on Dec. 31, 2004.

David Pierce, the Certificate of Need Coordinator for the State testified that at an Anchorage public hearing on RPTCs in Anchorage, Rep. Thomas Anderson signed in the roster and wrote 'self' in the box labeled 'representing.' He also read a transcript of Anderson's public comment where he said, (and I don't have the exact words here) something like "I'm particularly interested in Cornell's proposal...I don't have a particular interest, except interest in kids...not here on behalf of any group... Northstar looks good, but I've met with Cornell and toured their proposed site." This was all when money was being funnelled from Cornell's lobbyist Frank Prewitt to another Cornell lobbyist's (Bobrick) non-existent website and then paid to Anderson, who was asked to talk at this public hearing by the Cornell representatives.

I'll revise this post later tonight and add more on Bobrick's testimony. After the jury was dismissed for the day, Stockler was asked about his witnesses. He did say he still had to decide whether Anderson would testify. He'd decide that tomorrow (July 4).

Bobrick Testimony

As I wrote yesterday, Bobrick walked slowly, like a very tired man going somewhere he didn't want to be. And with good reason. He was going to testify against someone he'd described as a good friend and future business partner. And he was described by someone as a mentor and adviser to Tom Anderson. Much of the testimony went over tapes and quotes that had been reviewed during the Frank Prewitt testimony. His memory wasn't too good, especially when being cross examined by Stockler. We heard "I don't remember" frequently, particularly when asked what day something happened. Early on when asked if he knew Frank Prewitt was recording him, he answered, "No, I wouldn't have said as many stupid things as I said."

Bottini seemed to be trying to establish
  1. That for Bobrick's clients Anderson's best qualification was that he was a legislator. He could lobby the executive branch.
    1. Q: "as a private citizen or as a legislator?"
    2. A: "You can't shed that you're a legislator"
    3. What was Tom Anderson paid for? Being a legislator. Understood by You? Yes. Understood by Prewitt? Yes. Understood by Tom Anderson? I think so also, because there was no work, no newsletter, etc. [these are not exact quotes, but the best I could catch]
  2. That Anderson and he knew that it wouldn't look good if people knew that he was getting paid by Cornell.
  3. That the internet publishing business - Pacific Publications (sometimes Publishing) - was not a real business, but merely set up to pass money from Cornell to Anderson without it being visible.
  4. That Bobrick used the money from Prewitt to write checks totaling nearly $23,000, and the money wasn't for banner ads on the website, but for furthering Cornell's business interests as requested. The extra money was used to hire Ken Erickson to set up the website. But Bobrick said while the site got made, no one wrote any articles for it or sold any ads. Another check went to Josh Appleby who did some research on Alaska village governments that was for finding stringers around the state for the website.
  5. That the FBI had contacted Bobrick in Nov. 2006 and that Bobrick had pleaded guilty of conspriacy to commit money laundering, bribery, and extortion. [Take that with a grain of salt, not sure from my notes how many of those charges he pleaded to.] In exchange for "telling the truth" the Prosecutors might file a motion to ask the judge to take his cooperation into considering when sentencing.
It seemed to me that a number of times Bobrick's answers to Botinni had the rising intonation of a question, as if he were asking whether he'd given the right answer. He kept saying he'd done stupid things that have ruined his life and he's terribly sorry and testifying was one way to make things right. It sounded a little like a kid who is being forced to apologize for hitting his younger brother. He had to do it, but I wasn't totally sure his heart was in it. Another interpretation might be that he felt so defeated that his heart wasn't in anything. I've never met or seen Bobrick before to my knowledge, but he didn't seem like he was in the best mental health condition.

When Stockler started the cross examination, Bobrick was like a boxer who'd been knocked down but kept getting back up. Stockler hammered and hammered Bobrick over three things:

1. Trying to get Bobrick to agree that he was getting a great deal from the FBI for testifying. He kept responding that they made no promises, only possibilities. He finally said, "I've been convicted of a felony, I've lost my business of 20 years, my reputation in the community [something important for a lobbyist] has been destroyed, and I'm probably going to prison, I'm wrecked." Based on what's already happened to me, I don't expect anything good is going to happen to me." He acknowledged he'd made stupid mistakes, he's sorry, and he's paying for it and trying to make up for it as best as he can.

2. That Tom Anderson was looking for real, legitimate work and that he didn't want a sham job.. Anderson never asked for money when he did legislative work.

3. That the internet publishing company Pacific Publications that Bobrick was setting up was a real legitimate business, it was not a sham. This exchange got painful to watch. Bobrick said, that he wanted it to be real, he'd hoped it was real, but that he had been in denial. Half of him hoped it was real, half of him knew it was a sham. Stockler pressed hard. When did you stop thinking it was real? I don't know. On date X? Date Y? "THIS WAS A REAL BUSINESS WASN'T IT?!" And Bobrick would return to the refrain, "At the end of the day, it was set up to funnel money from Prewitt to Anderson. In this exchange, it seemed that Bobrick had lots of business ideas - sell bottled Eklutna water to the Chinese, a Vodka distillery, a shooting range, buy half-way houses from Cornell , but none of them came to fruition. He even said something like, Ok, you've established I'm a lousy entrepreneur.

This will give you one view of what happened, but I'm pretty tired. Check out the Anchorage Daily News for Lisa Demer's report too.

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