The Alaska Democratic Party (ADP) has accused former Chilkoot Charlie’s owner and Spenard area Republican state house candidate Mike Gordon of pushing to get a convicted child abuser and sex trafficker a lighter sentence, calling him a “good guy.”
The allegations stem from a letter Gordon wrote to Judge John Sedwick in 2005 asking for lenient sentencing for his long-time friend and Alaska Industrial Hardware President Josef Boehm. Boehm was convicted of operating a drug and underage sex-trafficking ring out of his home for two years.
Sedwick instead sentenced Boehm to the stiffest penalty allowed under the plea agreement Boehm made with federal prosecutors. The agreement also required Boehm to put $1.2 million into a trust to help his young teenage victims educate themselves and recover from what he did to them.
Gordon told the judge in his letter that he had known Boehm since the two were in high school in Anchorage and had marveled as his friend built AIH into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. He blamed drug use for Boehm’s sexual abuse of minors.
On May 11, 2005, the Anchorage Daily News described Boehm’s case this way:
Alaska Industrial Hardware president Josef Boehm was given a maximum prison sentence Tuesday for his part in a drug and underage sex trafficking ring that operated for two years out of his home.
U.S. District Judge John Sedwick sentenced Boehm, 61, to 11 years and three months in jail — the stiffest penalty allowed under a plea agreement the Anchorage businessman made with federal prosecutors. The agreement also requires Boehm to put $1.2 million into a trust to help his teenage victims educate and rehabilitate themselves.
U.S. Attorney Frank Russo said after the sentencing he thought justice had been done, but some of Boehm’s victims said they wished he would spend more time behind bars. Cathie Prindle was among them.
Prindle, 55, was the victim of a rape in Anchorage 40 years ago for which Boehm and two others were convicted. She showed up out of the blue Tuesday, hoping to tell the judge about what Boehm did to her when she was 15. She said she felt she had to speak out after hearing that community leaders were supporting Boehm and urging leniency.
“He is dangerous,” she said in an interview outside the courthouse. “He’s victimized girls since I was a girl, 39 years ago. People like him don’t change.”
Judge Sedwick came to some of those same conclusions Tuesday. He told the court that while he thought Boehm, a drug addict, may be amenable to treatment, he also thought the hardware-chain owner was a danger to the community.
The picture of Boehm’s Oceanview home that emerged over nine days of testimony was of a place where troubled teenagers addicted to crack traded their bodies, their friends and their loved ones for a hit of dope or a few dollars.
Despite eloquent closing arguments by Boehm’s three seasoned defense attorneys, Sedwick rejected the notion that their client was so cracked up he was incapable of being an organizer of the ring, and that he was a pawn of the two drug dealers and 24-year-old junkie who were arrested along with him in December 2003.
During the sentencing phase for those crimes several long-time friends wrote letters to the judge asking for leniency for Boehm. Those friends include Gordon and former Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Coffey.
According to another Anchorage Daily News article dated May 8, 2005:
Mike Gordon, chairman of the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, told the judge in his letter that he had known Boehm since the two were in high school in Anchorage and had marveled as his friend built AIH into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.
“Then he got involved with drugs and his life began to fall apart,” Gordon wrote. “From my vantage point, as the owner of Chilkoot Charlie’s, I have witnessed a lot of lives ruined by drugs, especially cocaine.”
” … Cocaine alters your perspective of life, entraps you with an other-wordly group of users, and turns all of your priorities upside down,” Gordon wrote. “It distorts, alters, confuses and addicts you. You either figure out the party is over or your life goes down the drain. Unfortunately, Joe never figured out when the party was over, perhaps in part because of his success. He had no financial constraints.”
Without cocaine and alcohol abuse, “Joe is a good guy,” Gordon wrote. He deserves to be punished, he said, but not to spend the rest of his life in jail. At 61, “it wouldn’t take too long a sentence to make him a ‘lifer,’ ” Gordon wrote.
The Alaska Democratic Party wrote in a Thursday press release titled “Republican Candidate Defended Child Sex Abuser as ‘Good Guy’ in Criminal Case,” that “Gordon Wanted Easy Sentence for High Profile Sex Trafficker” and that Gordon was looking for excuses to get a felon and friend a light sentence, calling a person who sexually abused young girls a “good guy.”
The letter written by Gordon mirrors those written by Juneau Rep. Cathy Munoz for two child sex abusers that drew harsh criticism from many members of the community just a few months ago. It is also the very same issue
The very same issue arose for Dan Coffey in last year’s Anchorage mayoral race. Many Anchorage political watchers blame that revelation for seriously damaging Coffey’s chances in that race.
The Midnight Sun contacted both the Alaska Republican Party and Mr. Gordon several times in the last two days for their reaction to this allegation. Neither chose to offer any.