During an interview with Mat-Su Frontiersman reporter Russell Stigall, which was published on October 11th, 2007, indicted former Representative Vic Kohring (pictured at left) lashed out at the major Alaska media outlets, accusing them of bias and manipulative reporting, identifying KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage as the worst offender.
A separate but related Frontiersman article can be viewed HERE.
Kohring once again asserted his innocence and reaffirmed his refusal to even consider making a deal with the Feds, which he believes would constitute an admission of guilt. But when Stigall posed the question "With Pete Kott's trial over and with you possibly facing similar evidence, do you still feel you will be found innocent?", Kohring then launched on the media:
"My case is weak and the Feds know it. I still hope and pray for an exoneration. The most difficult task I face is the lynch mob mentality throughout the state where much of the public is convinced that the accused (like me) are automatically guilty even before we have a chance to speak one word in court. It's not the public's fault though. The vast majority of people are honest and fair. I hold the media responsible for this travesty by attempting to try and convict me with their incredibly biased, one-sided and manipulating reporting. Channel 2 News is the worst. They constantly cast me in a bad light and imply I'm guilty. They've shown the "crying" episode from five months ago dozens of times on the news (making me appear overcome with guilt), when in reality, I shed a few tears for a brief moment from the outpouring of support among my legislative colleagues on the House Floor following the Feds accusations of felony crimes in May. The Anchorage Daily News ran a libelous headline last week outrageously claiming I took a $17,000.00 loan from Veco, when the truth is, there was nothing but a loan request. Chuck Legge is clearly on a mission to put me in prison with his continuous use of the Frontiersman as vehicle to spew his hate. His cartoons imply guilt such as the one showing me being taken away in a paddy wagon behind bars. His recent editorial and Daily News on line comments practically convict me. It's shameful. Unfortunately, even if innocent, it may prove very difficult to get a fair trial because of the way these over zealous people in the media irresponsibly manipulate the unsuspecting public in such a slanderous way. Frankly, I'm not sure what's worse anymore--the media or the FBI."
Kohring also took issue with the role played by State Senator Fred Dyson. Kohring believes that the FBI used Dyson to interfere with his case and to attempt to deny him his constitutional right to a trial. Kohring claims that if he had given in to Dyson's and the FBI's pressure to settle and not go to trial, he would have admitted guilt, become a felon and gone to prison for something he didn't do, and he would have regretted it for the rest of my life. And KTUU just reported this evening that Kohring's lawyer, John Henry Browne, alerted U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick that a motion to dismiss the case is coming because of this inappropriate behavior by the FBI involving Dyson and Wes Keller, Dyson's former chief of staff and the man appointed this summer to replace Kohring in House District 14. If the motion fails, the trial will begin as scheduled on October 22nd.
It appears the Feds are exacting revenge on Kohring for refusing to play along with the FBI-Dyson scheme. On October 5th, the Anchorage Daily News reported that the Feds had submitted a revised indictment of Kohring on October 3rd. The new indictment doesn't add any counts to the four-count public corruption case against Kohring, originally handed up by a federal grand jury in May. Both allege he broke federal bribery, extortion and conspiracy laws in 2006. But the expanded indictment includes additional allegations.
Click HERE to view revised 21-page Kohring indictment in PDF format.
In expanding the charging document by three pages, the government took the alleged conspiracy back to 2002, when it says Kohring first began receiving illegal cash payments of $500 to $1,000 from Allen and another Veco official, Rick Smith. The indictment now includes the story of former Kohring aide Eric Musser, who angered Allen when he filed a complaint with the Alaska Public Offices Commission against another legislator Allen supported, Beverly Masek.
The new indictment also says Kohring acted on Allen's behest in 2003 by releasing an oil bill he had bottled up in a committee he chaired. In addition, the indictment now calls $17,000 that Kohring allegedly sought from Allen to pay off a credit card debt a "payment" instead of a "loan."
Commentary: These could be tough charges for Kohring to fight. If convicted on all charges, he could face anywhere from 5-20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. His lawyer has had to review over 9,000 documents and hundreds of hours of audio, including phone calls. On May 5th, 2007, the Anchorage Daily News summarized some of the information, as follows:
The charges portray Kohring, 48, elected seven times by Mat-Su voters, as an eager-to-please loyalist pleading for opportunities to do Veco’s bidding.
In a phone call Feb. 21, 2006, for instance, Kohring told Smith he was willing to help Veco "in terms of any questions that need to be asked, any information that needs to be sought out, any points to make in caucus, or in committee meeting, on radio columns …"
On March 22, 2006, Kohring offered to be Smith's "information source," that he would "lobby on (Veco’s) behalf," and that he would "consider modifications to legislation or whatever" if they asked. Two days later, he told Smith over the phone that he was standing by to "do anything to help," that he would continue to advocate “good things for you guys” and that he wanted Smith to tell Allen that he was doing whatever he could "to help out."
By March 30, 2006, Kohring appeared to be looking for payback. Meeting with Allen and Smith in Suite 604, he asked for work or for a $17,000 loan to pay off past-due credit card debt. The three discussed how to structure the transaction so it could avoid detection and reporting to the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Allen then asked Smith if he had any “hundreds.” Smith reached for his wallet and handed Allen a bunch of small bills - perhaps $100, according to the indictment. Allen passed the money to Kohring. Thanking them for the money, Kohring repeated that he was broke. Allen gave him another wad of cash, between $500 and $1,000, the indictment said.
“What can I do at this point to help you guys, anything?” Kohring said.
“Whatever you, you know,” Allen said.
But between themselves, Smith and Allen seemed to have little respect for Kohring. On March 4, Allen told Smith of another $1,000 he gave to Kohring. One result of that payment: Kohring “would kiss our ass,” Allen said.
It must be remembered that Bill Allen and Rick Smith both rolled over and took pleas to get lesser punishment. This will impact the integrity of their testimony. However, phone conversations cannot be explained away so readily.