Thursday, July 05, 2007

USA vs. Thomas Anderson Day 8 (Final Version)

U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
Court Calendar for Thursday, July 5, 2007
Current as of 07/05/2007 at 5:30 PM

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

Highlights -
  • Anderson did not testify
  • I didn't see anything too significant in today's testimony - the Defense attorney was trying to establish that Anderson did paid work as consultant for other organizations - Anchorage CHARR and Alaska Telephone Association - but did not vote for things they wanted. It seemed to me that this had mixed results, particularly the ATA testimony seemed to be negated in the cross examination.
  • Tried to establish that the committee work was not particularly important, so all the testimony about getting Anderson onto Corrections and HESS committees wasn't as significant as it was made out to be. Again, this either backfired or was a wash. Not sure
  • Witnesses:
    • Joshua Michael Appleby - Anderson's legislative chief of staff who also got contract to do work for the website business with Bobrick.
    • Bernadette Bradly - President of the Board of Anchorage CHARR (Cabaret, Hotels, And Restaurants and Retailers Association)
    • James Rowe - Executive Director of the Alaska Telephone Association
    • Mary Beth Kepner - FBI Agent
    • Robert "Bob" Roses - Alaska State Representative who was elected to Anderson's seat when Anderson left the Legislature
  • Jury was dismissed for the day at 2pm
  • Judge and attorneys were to meet in judge's chambers to agree on jury instructions
  • Tomorrow morning will be final arguments and the case will be given to the jury
It looks pretty certain that tomorrow the case goes to jury. I got there at 9:30 this morning and the jury was still out while the attorneys were wrangling over procedural matters. As we got there it sounded like the judge was saying to Defense Attorney Stockler that

  1. he wouldn't be able to raise an entrapment defense, I think this is what the judge said, because it hadn't been raised in the beginning. [According to Lisa Demer's article in today's ADN, the judge ruled he could use this defense. I got there just as they were discussing this so I certainly defer to her take on this.] Stockler objected that things were revealed during the case that he hadn't been informed about - such as Commissioner Antrim getting called by the FBI in advance to let him know he would be getting a letter from Anderson, written by Prewitt. My understanding was that this was denied.
  2. The Prosecutors also challenged some of the witnesses Stockler wanted to present.
    1. He wanted to call FBI Agent Kepner, who has been involved in this case from the beginning and who has been in the courtroom throughout the case at the Prosecutor's table. Asking her about the number of hours of taped Anderson conversation - so he could show that there had been hours and hours of conversation and only in a few did Anderson say anything stupid. The judge responded that it was like asking for all the surveillance tape at the bank to show that the robber had come in many times and not robbed the bank. The other tapes didn't matter. He wanted to document that the FBI had a boat the followed Prewitt's boat on Prince William Sound five our bonding trip. And he wanted to follow up on the point that Anderson was originally called to the FBI office on the pretext that he'd won an award. The judge allowed the second two reasons.
    2. He also wanted to call Mr. Fuhs and Mr. Roses as expert witnesses. The Prosecutors challenged the need for expert witnesses. Stockler said they'd had expert witnesses discussing how the legislature works. They countered that these were participants in meetings with Anderson and their discussion of the legislature was to give context to their discussion. In the end Roses was allowed, not Fuhs.
    3. The Judge considered Defense's argument for Rule 29 Motion on each charge. When I googled it, I got the Cornell Law School website. That seemed appropriate. It said:

Rule 29. Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal
  1. (a) Before Submission to the Jury.

    1. After the government closes its evidence or after the close of all the evidence, the court on the defendant's motion must enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. The court may on its own consider whether the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. If the court denies a motion for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the government's evidence, the defendant may offer evidence without having reserved the right to do so.
The Rule 29 motions were rejected for all counts.

I've got to run now. I didn't catch anything too significant, but I'll try to fill in some more details of the defense witnesses later tonight.

Added from the Draft Version:

It appeared to me that Defense was using its witnesses to prove:
1. That the website was a real business, not a sham business. (Joshua Appleby)
2. That Anderson had worked as a consultant for other companies before and being paid by them didn't prevent him from voting against their preferences. (Bernadette Bradley, James Rowe)
3. The FBI was trying to entrap (was careful to not use this word in front of the jury) his client. (Mary Beth Kepner)
4. Committee assignments - the Prosecution had shown that Anderson had worked to get on those committees of most interest to Cornell - weren't really all that important. (Appleby,Bob Roses)

I'm not sure that the points came across the way the defense intended and additional information came out that seemed to be of questionable value to the defense. In contrast to the Prosecution's witness Bobrick's account of a smart, hard-working, gung-ho, politics junkie, who followed through on things he started, the defense witnesses portrayed Anderson as "extremely hyper," loses focus unless you followed up with him; brilliant mind, but hard to keep it focused; sent staff to the key committee because it was at 7am and Anderson didn't function well that early. Stockler even asked a witness if he was ADD.

Item 1: Appleby, who was Anderson's chief of staff and who was recommended to Bobrick for a contract to develop a list of local government officials around the state who could be writers for the electronic journal, said he believed it was a real business venture. But after March 2003, he needed instructions to go further and he asked Anderson "about 20 times and was told 'let me think about it.'

Item 2: Bradly and Rowe were there to show that Tom didn't vote for former clients issues if he didn't agree with them. Bradly said Tom had been the first executive director of CHARR. Later when a rep, he had a contract to increase membership and help the new ED. He was paid either $1500 or $2500 in September 2003 and another $5000 in April 2004. Despite this relationship, he voted against CHARR's position on several issues. They were against lowering the blood alochol level for DUI from .10 to .08, against mandatory seat belts, increasing limits on brew pub sales, and a law relating to establishments with strippers. Anderson voted for all of them. Rowe's organization which represents local phone companies across the state hired Anderson for $5000 a month September 1, 2003 to do legal research for them. He was paid for four months for a total of $20,000. But Rowe testified under examination by Stockler, the Defense attorney, that Anderson voted against their key bill. On cross examination, it came out that the Alaska Telephone Association had two law firms they regularly used for legal advice; that Anderson's contract had no product required ; and that his 'research' involved studying HB 211 on telephone regulation as well as the State Regulations. When asked what the purpose of this study was, Rowe said, to educate Anderson on issues of importance to our rural Alaska customers.

Item 3: Stockler was limited by the judge on what he could ask Agent Kepler.
Q: Did you call Anderson and tell him he one an award and had to pick it up at the FBI headquarters on June 15, 2005?
A: No he was asked to give advice nominate someone for an award.
Q: Did he come into a room with a wall full of pictures of fishing trip on Prewitt's boat and played recordings of his conversations?
A: Yes.
Q: Was he told to stop working on the website?
A: No.
Q: Why use deception to get him to the office?
A: We wanted to get his cooperation and keep covert the nature of the investigation.

Item 4: Appleby said that as long as there was a quorum of four, he could go in Anderson's place to the Corrections Budget Subcommittee and did for the last two meetings.
Roses barely touched on committee assignments except to say he himself probably sat on more committees than any other representative. His testimony ranged from character witness (Anderson's family move in across the street from Roses when Anderson was a kid, so he knew him a long time), talking about what various legislators did for a living. When asked in cross examination if legislators have a responsibility to report sources of income, Roses essentially agreed this was the expectation, but it doesn't reflect what all happens.

Crucial tomorrow morning will be the instructions to the jury. What exactly has to be proven for each count against Anderson. From what we've seen it appears that the Prosecution wants to prove:

  1. That Pacific Publications was set up to channel money from Prewitt (and Bobrick and Anderson assumed the money was from his employer Cornell, though it was from the FBI) to Anderson.
  2. Although there may have been a belief that this was a real company in the beginning, all parties, including Anderson, knew the main purpose was to hide the fact that Anderson was being paid by Cornell.
  3. The money was paid so that Cornell could ask Anderson to do various things for them - get onto committees that would impact relevant legislation and could give him a legitimate reason to ask administrators to testify on Corrections issues, lobby his legislative colleagues, and meet with administrative officials, and even testify at public meetings.
  4. If Anderson had not known there was something wrong with the arrangement with Cornell, he wouldn't have agreed to the hiding of the source of the funding, he wouldn't have hidden the deal from his then girlfriend (and legislative colleague) and now wife.
  5. Of course, Bobrick, Prewitt, and Anderson attempted to make Pacific Publications into as real a company as they could. This would give them cover in case there was an investigation. The more legitimate it was, more they could deny it was a sham organization to hide the real source of funds.
The Defense is going to try to demonstrate that:
  1. Anderson was an eager, conscientious legislator whose door was open to anyone, and that he was eager to please would assist people simply because that was how he was
  2. Anderson believed that Pacific Publications was a real company and that it was not related to assisting Cornell's interests. Since those interests were consistent with his philosophy, he had no conflict.
  3. He wasn't hiding the source of income because it was illegal, but because he didn't want to lose the votes of union constituents who were opposed to the private prison.
  4. [Anderson was entrapped by the FBI] The criminals here are Prewitt who when confronted by the FBI with illegal acts and likely prison, agreed to catch a legislator, and worked hard to get Anderson to do and say the things that would reduce Prewitt's criminal liability. Then Bobrick was confronted by the FBI and he agreed to help too. The did everything they could to get Anderson to say he was performing legislative acts in exchange for specific payments, but he always said that the payments and the actions were not related.

Googling around, I found a list of the specific charges. I don't know enough about the specifics of each charge to know how the evidence fits. I'm sure this will be in the instructions to the jury tomorrow (well, later today.) But here are the charges.

Summary of Charges
Anderson is charged in the Indictment with the following offenses:
Count - Offense Charged

1 - Conspiracy - Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371
2 - Interference with Commerce by Extortion Induced Under Color of Official Right - Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) and § 2
3 - Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds - Violation of 18 U.S.C. §666(a)(1)(B) and § 2
4 - 6 Money Laundering - Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1) and § 2
7 - Interference with Commerce by Extortion Induced Under Color of Official Right - Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) and § 2

Interesting quotes:
Appleby on what a day is like during the legislative session - "mind-numbingly slow to hair-pullingly crazy"
The judge, while the jury was out, discussing with the two opposing attorneys new witnesses and information that had come out because witnesses had volunteered without being asked, "Bobrick was a peculiar witness."
Roses "Tom is two different people: The first cares about people and compassion; The second is a hyperactive kid - the energy needs to be funneled." (Quote is approximate)

Finally, just a comment on the role of the FBI here, since apparently the defendant, and the two key witnesses for the prosecution all were, at some time cooperating with the FBI and wearing wires.
Frank Prewitt began wearing a wire with Bobrick and then Anderson in Spring 2003. Prewitt claimed that 'mistakes' he'd made were either past the statute of limitations or very minor and that he was cooperating with the FBI voluntarily, not to get any reduction in sentence or charges dropped. He said he was involved with 6-8 other investigations.
Bill Bobrick began cooperating with the FBI in late September or early October 2006. He quickly pled guilty and agreed to cooperate with the FBI. It's not clear whether he is cooperating in other investigations. The only promise made to him was that if things went well, they might write a letter to the judge asking for leniency in sentencing.
Tom Anderson was called into the FBI in November 2006 [June 14, 2005]. Anderson, obviously, has not pleaded guilty, but apparently has cooperated with the FBI and worn a wire.

So this case is most likely the tip of the iceberg. We know of three more legislators who have been indicted and two more who have been investigated, but not indicted.

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