The wife of a Soldotna police officer arrested in July pleaded not guilty in Kenai Superior Court on Wednesday to two felony charges she faces for allegedly attempting to influence a witness in her husband’s case.
Samantha Bower, 45, of Soldotna, was indicted by a Kenai grand jury last month on one count of interfering with official proceedings, a class B felony, and on one count of theft in the second degree, a class C felony.
During an arraignment hearing on Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Her husband, David Bower, was arrested in July on a fourth-degree domestic violence assault charge. He has worked as an officer with the Soldotna Police Department since 2004 and is currently on administrative leave pending investigations by both the City of Soldotna and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation.
Between June 30, 2008, and March 10, 2023, Samantha Bower also worked at the Soldotna Police Department, first as a temporary clerk and then as a full-time clerk. That’s according to Soldotna City Manager Janette Bower, who is unrelated to Samantha and David.
The grand jury indictment handed down Oct. 25 says Samantha Bower’s alleged crimes occurred on the same day that the report of domestic violence in the David Bower case was made to the Alaska State Troopers.
Superior Court Judge Lance Joanis presided over Wednesday’s arraignment hearing and instituted a no contact order between Samantha Bower and the family member she is alleged to have tried to influence. That family member is the same person David Bower is alleged to have assaulted.
Samantha Bower was initially scheduled to be arraigned last week under Superior Court Judge Kelly Lawson, however, Lawson recused herself from the case.
Lawson wrote in a request for reassignment that she has known Bower “personally and professionally for many years,” although they do not socialize. Lawson said Bower texted her in July asking how her day had been, but Lawson did not respond because she thought the message was sent in error.
“I found out the day after her text message that her husband had been arrested,” Lawson wrote. “Today, I learned of these charges against her, which appear to be from around the same time period of her husband’s arrest and the text message. While I can be fair and impartial in this matter, under Judicial Canon 3(E), I believe this recent contact, as well as my prior relationship with her, might reasonably call into question my impartiality.”
Superior Court Just Jason Grist, who said he has a “close friendship” with the case prosecutor Jenna Gruenstein, also recused himself.
Alaska Statute says that a person commits the crime of interference with official proceedings when that person confers, offers to confer or agrees to confer a benefit upon a witness with the intent of improperly influencing that witness.
Statute says a person commits the crime of second-degree theft when that person commits theft and the value of the property is more than $750, but less than $25,000.
The Class B and Class C felony charges leveled against Samantha Bower carry heftier potential punishments than the Class A misdemeanor charge her husband is facing.
Samantha Bower was represented in court Thursday by Andy Pevehouse, who is also representing David Bower. Pevehouse did not respond to a request for confirmation on Thursday.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.