Notwithstanding the apparent success Beverly Masek’s lawyer had in getting the court to reduce her sentence for taking bribes because of her alcohol problem, former VECO executive and admitted briber Rick Smith is going a different route in asking for leniency.
It’s well-known that Smith has had an alcohol problem for years. But the 20-page sentencing memorandum submitted by his lawyers steers clear of any blame of demon booze for his crimes and instead focuses on Smith’s relative lack of power as compared to his boss, long-time VECO CEO Bill Allen.
In the document filed in advance of his sentencing Wednesday morning, the defendant comes across as a humble salaryman under the thumb of Allen the corporate titan. Smith’s title of VECO’s Vice President of Corporate and Government Affairs was a vast overstatement of his actual power: His actual signing authority to buy anything for the company was limited to $1,000. Instead of a dangerous and powerful co-conspirator, Smith’s lawyers portray him as only an “errand boy” for Allen.
Smith’s lead attorney John Murtagh seems to have calculated that U.S. District Judge John Sedwick is not likely to give Smith a break for his drinking problem, just like Judge Sedwick did not go easy on ex-State Rep. Pete Kott because of that defendant’s well-known excessive fondness for the bottle.
Disclosure: As a prosecutor, I have been up against John Murtagh in his capacity as an Anchorage criminal defense attorney. (Anchorage attorney Mike Keenan also represents Smith.)
P.S. For another discussion of the drinking problems of Pete Kott and Rick Smith by a former legislative colleague of Kott’s, see Andrew Halcro’s commentary at http://www.andrewhalcro.com/sunday_comment_kott_caught_telling_lies on the Internet.