Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Tribute to Tony Hopfinger and Richard Mauer - and the Mysterious Hard-to-Locate Articles by Tony and Amanda Coyne

The news last week that the State of Alaska is looking into the voluminous evidence of ex-Veco chief Bill Allen's child sexual abuse that appear to go far beyond mere allegations, was welcomed by many. The Anchorage Daily News (finally!) published a short editorial, praising the decision:

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:

No one at the Department of Law, including the Anchorage district attorney, knew about the woman's allegations before they were detailed in an Aug. 21 Daily News story, Sullivan said.

"I can tell you that we were just as concerned about this case as anyone else who read that article," Sullivan said.

Anchorage police had been working with a trial attorney in the federal Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in Washington, D.C., for two years. Investigators on the teen's case said the prosecutor and his supervisor supported taking it to a federal grand jury, but they were overruled. Police were given no explanation.

"Everyone expected the case to go federal. And that was it," said police Lt. Dave Parker, explaining why police didn't go to state prosecutors initially.

Sullivan's comments came during a press briefing Thursday related to threatened Steller sea lions. He was asked whether the state intended to pursue a case against Allen and was ready with a written statement.

"A team from the criminal division at the Department of Law met with the (Anchorage police) investigators last week," Sullivan said in his statement to reporters. "We also have obtained the police file and investigative report concerning this case and are reviewing it."

He didn't take questions and said he couldn't comment further "given that this an ongoing criminal investigation."

It should be remembered that the Anchorage Police had intended to reopen the case themselves, back in early 2008:


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


Anonymous said...

Another sexual abuse claim threatens to taint star witness in Stevens's trial

Bill Allen escapes prosecution on sex charges

Anonymous said...

Phil - If you want to read the original article, simply log in to the Loussac and search for it in their news archives. Just because it's not online doesn't meant that it doesn't exist.

You'll notice a link to the Anchorage Daily News Archives.

Very handy, I'm surprised that you guys don't use this more often.

Anonymous said...

Another article that seems to have disappeared from the internets is Kyle Hopkins' piece from when he was with the Anchorage Press. There are some very good clues in that story as well. A little bit harder to come by, but still available at the library of course.

"Just a few days later, on December 4, Desiree Lekanoff disappeared. Friends and family assumed the former A-student and stripper had skipped town or lapsed back into drug use, until an Anchorage family found what was left of her body along the shore of Turnagain Arm in June of 2003. That same month may have marked the last sighting of another Anchorage woman, 32-year-old Michelle Rothe. Like Lekanoff, her body would eventually surface on the coast of Anchorage without a head or legs.

Questions swirled around the discovery of the two torsos. Were the killings linked?"

Sometimes the answers are sitting there, right out in the open. There are still a lot of people around who knew Lekanoff, you ought to track them down. There is a story there.

There are other angles that have been overlooked too, Palins' skirt has been a nice distraction the last couple of years, no ?

Remember the Golden Horn Lodge ?

Location: Willow
Case number: 07- 7805
Type: Death Investigation
Text: On 1/28/07 at 1224 hours, AST responded to a report of a deceased female on Caswell Loop. Investigation revealed that 45 year old Nancy Miles of Anchorage died of an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. There are no signs of foul play and Miles was released to Heritage Mortuary Service. The next of kin has been notified.
Received and posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 6:08 PM

Who was she and what did she know about the GHL and other Stevens' related dealings ?