GOP figure becomes 10th Alaskan guilty in corruption probe

Alaska State Sen. John Cowdery pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to bribery and extortion Friday morning, the latest public official to fall in the broad public corruption investigation in Alaska.

Cowdery, 78, acknowledged conspiring with top officials of the former oil-field service company Veco Corp. to attempt to get $25,000 into the campaign of another state senator in 2006. In exchange, the state senator was to have supported of Veco's position on pending oil-tax legislation.

The bargain was never consummated, but it led to the indictment of Cowdery, a Republican who has represented parts of the Anchorage Hillside and Lake Otis Parkway area for 14 years in the Alaska House and Senate.

In return for his guilty plea, the government agreed to drop a second charge of bribery.

Prosecutors will also recommend that he face home confinement instead of prison and a maximum fine of $25,000 unless a pre-sentence investigation determines he is very wealthy, in which case the government might recommend up to a $75,000 fine. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Cowdery is the 10th person to be convicted in the federal corruption investigation, mostly current or former public officials, with one other legislator awaiting trial.

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