Murkowski Questions Attorney General Holder on Failure to Prosecute Bill Allen and Vows to Continue to Pursue the Issue
March 15, 2011
On August 21, 2010, the Anchorage Daily News reported that “top officials of the U.S. Department of Justice vetoed the prosecution of Allen for transporting Paula Roberds, formerly of Goodnews Bay, from Seattle to Anchorage for illicit purposes while she was a minor.” Media accounts indicate that Allen’s relationship with Roberds began when the woman was age 15. Sergeant Kevin Vandergriff of the Anchorage Police Department told the Daily News that law enforcement as well as career prosecutors in the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section recommended that the United States seek an indictment of Allen on the charges but were overruled by officials atop the Criminal Division.
In response to that article, Murkowski sent a letter to Attorney General Holder asking him to look into why the Justice Department declined to prosecute Allen. The Justice Department responded with a letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Welsh, stating that it is the Justice Department’s policy not to disclose why or why not a case is prosecuted.
During her questioning, Murkowski asked Attorney General Holder why Allen was not prosecuted. Murkowski asked Holder to, “Specifically address the proposition that Allen was not prosecuted on account of his cooperation with federal prosecutors in other cases.”
Attorney General Holder responded by saying that “In making the determination as to what happens in any particular case, the Justice Department is guided by the rules and principles of federal prosecution and takes into consideration a number of factors; among them being the age of the case, the reliability of the witnesses, the ability to say that we have a better than 50 percent chance of winning a case.” He insisted, “Decisions to decline prosecutions or not go forward with cases are made strictly on that basis, not with regard to political persuasion or the role somebody has played.” Holder said, “If a case could be made, a case would be brought.”
Anchorage Police Department investigators who met with Murkowski in January believed that the case could have been brought and should have. They suggested to Murkowski there was far greater than fifty percent chance that Allen would be convicted if charged with a section of the federal Mann Act that prohibits the knowing transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent that she engage in prostitution.
Murkowski concluded by telling Attorney General Holder that “This case is something that has troubled Alaskans to the core; that you have an extremely high profile political figure abusing in a very terrible way, a 15-year-old girl over a period of years. I will tell you that we are not done attempting to resolve this issue and I will be asking for your support as we try to pursue this.”
Murkowski indicated that she would ask the Justice Department’s independent Inspector General and its Office of Professional Responsibility to examine the handling of the case.
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