AG wants permission to investigate Bill Allen
Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards and Sen. Dan Sullivan joined forces in Anchorage Feb. 5 to announce the state’s intent to pursue longstanding allegations of sexual abuse and trafficking of a minor against former Alaska business leader Bill Allen.
Richards sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Friday requesting she cross-designate the State of Alaska with authority to investigate and potentially prosecute Allen in federal court for violating the Mann Act.
A federal law passed in 1910, the Mann Act prohibits transport of individuals across state lines with the intent of engaging in sexual acts with them.
The Anchorage Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation first looked into the allegations in 2004 that Allen had paid for Paula Roberds, originally from the Western Alaska village of Goodnews Bay, to fly between Anchorage and Seattle multiple times for sex when Roberds was 16, according to news reports.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced in 2010 that it would not prosecute Allen for those allegations.
Prior requests for cross-designation by former attorneys general Michael Geraghty and Sullivan himself were denied by the Justice Department with little explanation.
In rather unique coalescence, Sullivan, as senator, sponsored an amendment to the Mann Act requiring the U.S. attorney general to approve the cross-designation or provide the state attorney general with “a detailed reason for the denial no later than 60 days after the date on which a request is received,” the law states.
President Barack Obama signed the anti-trafficking bill that included Sullivan’s Mann Act amendment into law last year.
Alaska Criminal Division Director John Skidmore said documents subpoenaed to a federal grand jury cannot be revealed to parties not authorized to pursue charges on a federal level, thus requiring the cross-designation authority from Lynch.
Speculation has persisted — and continued at the press conference in Anchorage —that Allen was not prosecuted due to a deal he may have reached with the feds in exchange for testifying against the late Sen. Ted Stevens in a 2008 political corruption case. Stevens was found guilty just days before the 2008 election and lost to Mark Begich by a narrow margin.
The conviction against Stevens was eventually tossed and the Justice Department attorneys were sanctioned for misconduct for withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense.
“The guardians of justice for the country may have said, ‘alright, to go after Ted Stevens we are going to throw (out), ignore and not go after the heinous crimes where victims are young girls.’ The Department of Justice should not be doing that if that did indeed happen,” Sullivan said.
Richards and Sullivan both emphasized that their criticism of the Justice Department’s silence regarding its denials of previous cross-designation requests is not aimed at Lynch, given she was not the U.S. attorney general when those requests were made.
“This is really, I think, the opportunity for the Justice Department to right a wrong and make clear and provide clarity around what really happened,” Richards said. “And if there was a deal cut and the deal was that (seeking) to prosecute Ted Sevens would result that Bill Allen not be prosecuted for sexual crimes against children, then we should know it and if that wasn’t the deal then Alaskans should know that too.”
Allen, the former head of the oilfield services firm VECO Corp., pled guilty in 2007 to bribing a handful of Alaska legislators for support of an industry-friendly state tax policy. He was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $750,000.
Skidmore said the state has not yet confirmed Allen’s whereabouts and would do so if it chooses — and is allowed — to pursue charges against him.