Frank Prewitt

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James Franklin Prewitt (/ˈprˈwɪt/; born January 31, 1949) is an American attorney and government affairs consultant. He was a confidential source whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) relied on to help prosecute "PolarPen," the Alaska political corruption probe. Prewitt is the author of Last Bridge to Nowhere, a fictionalized book that describes his involvement as an FBI source.

Early years[edit]

James Franklin Prewitt, also known as Frank, was born in Berkeley, California on January 31, 1949. He was the youngest of three children born to Catherine and James Prewitt, co-founder of Western Baptist College (now Corban University) in Salem, Oregon. He attended public and international schools in the San Francisco bay area and Israel and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Corban College, a Master of Science degree from the University of Oregon and Juris Doctor degree from the University of Puget Sound School of Law.

During graduate school Frank served as a Trooper with the Oregon State Police (OSP). In his final semester of law school he was appointed legal extern to retired United States District Court Judge James Singleton and during the 1970s and 1980s instructed justice courses as adjunct faculty for Anchorage Community College.

Government service[edit]

In thirteen years of public service to the State of Alaska, Prewitt served as the Director of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Corrections and Assistant Alaska Attorney General.

When the State of Alaska’s only Psychiatric Hospital was at risk of losing accreditation, Governor Walter Hickel appointed Prewitt CEO, relying on his “exceptional management skills” to successfully re-organize and re-focus the hospital as a provider of quality inpatient and outpatient mental health services.[1]

Prewitt served under, and at the will of three successive Alaska Governors (Bill Sheffield, Steve Cowper and Walter Hickel). In his final year of public service, editorial writers of Alaska’s largest newspaper twice applauded Commissioner Prewitt for his, “unusually level-headed approach to the high charged issue of crime…when he argues ‘adding police and prosecutors, without giving equal attention to prevention, custody and treatment alternatives may be tough-minded, but it’s also soft-headed and fiscally irresponsible.” [2][dubious ]

Private practice[edit]

In 1995 Prewitt established a private consulting and lobbying practice advising and representing human service organizations pursuing business partnership, outsourcing opportunity, funding, statutory and regulatory change with Alaska state and local government.

From 1998 to 2004 Prewitt was the consulting government affairs and corrections expert for corporate partnerships pursuing construction and operation of private correctional facilities in Alaska, Oregon and Washington. The venture rotated through a succession of corporate principals including Allvest Inc, GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut), Cornell Corrections, Chugach Alaska Corporation (Alaska Native Regional Corporation), VECO Intl Inc, Kenai Native Association, Neeser Construction and the architectural firms of Koonce Pfeffer Bettis and Livingston-Slone.

Combating political corruption[edit]

From 2004 to 2007 Prewitt worked undercover investigations as an FBI confidential source exposing Alaska’s sub-culture of political corruption prosecuting the Alaska political corruption probe.

On October 10, 2007 the Anchorage Daily News reported, "After court on Thursday, prosecutor Joe Bottini took the unusual step of singling out prosecution witness Frank Prewitt, who has been working undercover for the FBI since 2004…his work helped investigators get the evidence they needed for wiretaps and bugs in Suite 604 of (Juneau's) Baranof Hotel. Bottini said that Prewitt has done a ‘tremendous job’ for the government, 'we owe him a lot, frankly'."[citation needed]

Two of the early private prisons venture partners were caught up in the ongoing Alaska political corruption probe leading to blogger and press speculation that Prewitt's service to the federal government may have been the result of a secret plea agreement although no formal charges were placed. Prewitt contends his participation with the FBI began after he was cleared. He wore a wire to record conversations in meetings with probe targets. Court documents filed on March 22, 2010 in a criminal appeal indicated that Prewitt had been paid $200,000 for his assistance.[3]

In the trial of ex-Representative Tom Anderson, Prewitt, a former commissioner for the Alaska Department of Corrections, explained how he was willing to go undercover for the feds to try to ease his own criminal exposure in unrelated investigations.[citation needed]

Criticism[edit]

Under cross examination during the criminal trial of former Alaska Representative Tom Anderson, Prewitt testified that he accepted a $30,000 loan from Bill Weimar in 1994, four months before the end of his term as Commissioner of Corrections. He testified it was a personal loan offered during a family emergency that he gratefully accepted and repaid by providing six months of legal consulting work for Allvest Inc from February 1995 to July 1995. He testified that Bill Weimar had a contract to provide halfway house services to Corrections. Neither the prosecution nor defense offered evidence that the loan was accepted in exchange for official acts, special interest favors, or was related in any way to a specific impropriety.

Allvest...face(d) two lawsuits that allege its board of directors defrauded plaintiffs in two 2001 court judgments that held the private corporation responsible for wrongful actions. Attorneys Tim Dooley and Brett von Gemmingen...allege that Allvest owner William C. Weimar sold Allvest assets valued at more than $17 million and distributed most of those funds to himself, with the transfer approved by the Allvest board of directors: Weimar, Frank Prewitt and Robert Cronen. "These transfers were made with the intent to evade just obligations," Dooley allege(d) in his lawsuit...[4] Prewitt also acknowledged making an improper campaign contribution in 2002 that could have resulted in a civil fine or written warning if the violation had come to the attention of the Alaska Public Offices Commission. The issue was moot because fines or warnings for Alaska campaign contribution violations can only be issued within twelve months of the alleged violation (Alaska Statutes 15.56.130). The defense used both incidents as an attempt to question Prewitt's motives and believability before the jury.[5] The defense was unsuccessful and on July 9, 2007 Thomas Anderson was convicted on all seven counts of criminal extortion, bribery and money laundering.[6] On October 15, 2007 Anderson was sentenced to five years in federal prison.[7] Weimar subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of corruption and was also sentenced to federal prison.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ State of Alaska Office of the Governor No. 92-201 09/23/92
  2. ^ Anchorage Daily News (ADN) Editorial 02/01/94; Anchorage Daily News (ADN) Editorial 08/28/94
  3. ^ FBI said to have paid witness $200,000 during corruption probe, Alaska Dispatch News, Lisa Demer, March 23, 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  4. ^ Fairbanks News-Miner 11/08/02
  5. ^ Anchorage Daily News 07/03/07
  6. ^ http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2007/July/07_crm_489.html, United States Department of Justice, 9 July 2007. Retrieved on 7 September 2013.
  7. ^ http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2008/July/08-crm-601.html%7Cnewspaper=Anchorage Daily News|Date=6 October 2007|US Department of Justice.
  8. ^ Anchorage Daily News 01/06/09