There are no guarantees that the state will pursue the case, but Alaskans should be glad that Attorney General Dan Sullivan is reviewing the sex-abuse investigation of former Veco president Bill Allen. The decision this summer by the federal Department of Justice to drop the case against Allen -- a convicted felon and key government witness in the state political corruption scandal -- angered many Alaskans and left alleged victims wondering why they endured the pain of coming forward.
Investigators from both the Anchorage Police Department and the federal government concluded they had a solid case, at least worthy of a grand jury indictment and then trial.
The feds declined to pursue the case. They gave no reason. Federal silence led naturally to speculation that the feds made a deal with Allen to spare him charges involving sexual abuse of minors. That's not a deal anyone should make.
So now the state's top law enforcer has ordered a review of the case. Beyond that he's saying nothing. Reticence is right until the review is done. But the review is essential to make sure justice is done, and to make good on Gov. Sean Parnell's pledge to stand against sexual assault, abuse and domestic violence.
If the AG finds sufficient grounds to go where the feds won't, he shouldn't hesitate.
Last month I wrote that, in the wake of the U.S. Justice Department's decision to not pursue the evidence against Allen, we could hope the Municipality of Anchorage or State of Alaska would take up the case. The attorney general's reaction to reading about the case (it has been in the news for years, General Sullivan) seems visceral enough:
By RICHARD MAUER
Published: February 3rd, 2008 06:01 AM
Last Modified: April 18th, 2010 08:11 AM
Anchorage police have reopened an investigation into allegations that Bill Allen, the government's key witness in the ongoing corruption inquiry and once a leading political force in Alaska, had sex with an underage girl in the mid-1990s.
The investigation originally began in 2004 as an offshoot of the scandalous Josef Boehm sex and drug ring, according to Detective Kevin Vandegriff, who worked with federal investigators on the Boehm case.
But when federal prosecutors asked Anchorage police to suspend the investigation shortly after it began, the department complied, he said.
The Allen investigation was dormant until December, when it was reopened, said Capt. Gardner Cobb, the city's chief of detectives. The evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Allen, now 70, was contradictory and never strong, both Cobb and Vandegriff said.
But Vandegriff decided to go back into the case, interviewing witnesses and reviewing the record, "to make sure there's nothing else out there that we're missing," Cobb said in an interview in December. Vandegriff is still following leads and the investigation remains open, APD spokesman Paul Honeman said Friday.
The specific allegation was sexual abuse of a minor, Cobb said, a crime for which there is no statute of limitations.
That was two and a half years ago.
The two reporters who have spent the most time on the Allen information, derived from the case against former Alaska Industrial Hardware head Josef Boehm, are Tony Hopfinger (sometimes writing with Amanda Coyne on this) and Richard Mauer (who has been joined at times, or reinforced, by Lisa Demer. Articles on Boehm and this go back to 2004. Many of these articles are now almost impossible to find, with Hopfinger and Coyne's very pivotal piece having been removed not just from its place of origen, but from many mirrors and caches:
Gone from Steve Aufrecht's January 31st 2008 article at What Do I Know?
Gone from the comments in my December 13, 2009 article (multiple disappearances - see the comments).
In the comments to a November 21, 2008 article at Talking Points Memo on a related matter, in the comments, there is this item:
From the February 10th 2004 edition of the Anchorage Daily News.....
In a police station restroom in December after his arrest on a crack cocaine charge, Anchorage businessman Josef F. Boehm teased an officer with a remarkable comment: He could, he suggested, tell police something about missing women in Anchorage.
According to transcripts of court proceedings, the officer, after hearing the remark, took Boehm to FBI headquarters downtown to talk to federal authorities, where Boehm went further: He said he might have information on two female torsos that washed up on Turnagain Arm shores last year.
Whether his claim was genuine or a bargaining ploy is not known. Police say they have not found a link between Boehm and the two dead women.
The link in that comment has since gone cold.
As I wrote in my August 22nd post about this:
If Bill Allen were Alaska Native or African-American or Arab-American and Paula Roberds a fifteen-year-old blonde from a prominent Anchorage family, how differently would the case against Allen be proceeding at this time?
I venture to say that the case would not have been dropped by the U.S. Justice Department. Not only that, but had Allen been a person of color, and his victims white, the whole way the case has been handled since his name surfaced in the investigation of Josef Beohm for child sexual abuse would have gone down a different set of routes.
Although the Federal government has dropped their case, Allen violated a number of Anchorage and Alaska statutes. Were Roberds white, rather than Yupik, and Allen black, tea party wannabees would be all over this by now.
Gov. Sean Parnell would be announcing the creation of a team to prosecute Allen very publicly.
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan would be coming home early from a vacation to announce that Anchorage should take the lead in the prosecution, not the state.
Let's hope that the state doesn't find some lame reason to dead-end justice once again on this, one of the strangest sets of cases in Alaska history. If it weren't for a few reporters and bloggers, most notably Tony Hopfinger and Richard Mauer, this case would have been forgotten.
Update already: Steve Aufrecht has found much of two articles by Coyne, or Hopfinger and Coyne cached here, as downloaded texts from their originals. Thanks, Steve.
image - Tony Hopfinger