Maybe the corruption trial
of former state legislator Rep. Vic Kohring (R-AK) is really a call for healthcare reform. Kohring learned the age-old HMO lesson (never, ever
go out of network) the hard way and ended up begging Veco executives for cash when faced with collection agency calls.
Kohring says a spinal surgery in 2002 at the Mayo Clinic, which wasn't on his health plan's preferred provider list, set him back thousands of dollars. One credit card still had a $17,000 balance in March 2006. With collection agencies harassing him and his house, worth about $100,000, not selling, he approached Veco executives Bill Allen and Rick Smith with an idea. He would lobby other state lawmakers to support a piece of pipeline legislation in exchange for some cash. He never received the $17,000.
Kohring's lawyer has argued prosecutor's nabbed his small fish client when they should have been pursuing the big fish: Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and former state Senate President Ben Stevens. The lawyer, Wayne Anthony Ross, wrote in a letter
to federal prosecutors: "You dun got the wrong man." Father and son Stevens, who are both under investigation for their connection to Veco, have not been officially accused of wrongdoing (yet), but Kohring is charged with accepting $2,600 in cash and lining up a Veco summer internship for his nephew worth $3,000.
Yesterday prosecutors showed jurors an FBI tape of Smith peeling bills off a stack of cash and handing them to Khoring in a Juneau hotel suite:
Allen asked Smith if he had any hundreds. Smith is seen on the video standing up, taking out his wallet and peeling off some bills, at least $100, according to prosecutors. Allen handed the cash to Kohring.
Kohring thanked them.
He said he had just sent his stepdaughter a card and some money for her Girl Scout uniform.
Allen said he wanted to help on her uniform and pulled out some more bills, totaling $500 to $1,000, prosecutors say. Kohring thanked them again and shook Allen's hand.
In the courtroom as the scene played, some of the jurors scribbled notes. All seemed glued to the screen.