This article about the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) incorrectly described the testimony of an Alaska dog breeder about a sled dog bought by friends of the senator. The breeder, called by the defense, testified that the dog, a runt, was worth less than $100. Prosecutors allege that the dog was purchased at a charity auction for $1,000 by friends who gave it to Stevens. The prosecutors say the senator then listed the value of the dog as $250 on financial disclosure forms, underreporting the value.
Inouye Praises Stevens's Integrity
Friday, October 10, 2008
A Democratic senator who has been a longtime friend of Sen. Ted Stevens took the witness stand yesterday to defend the integrity of the powerful Alaska Republican, who is battling corruption charges.
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) testified that he liked and admired Stevens from the moment he met him in the 1960s because of their common experiences as World War II veterans.
"I have never heard of him lying under oath," Inouye said. "I have never known him to lie."
"I can assure you his word is good enough to take to the bank," the senator from Hawaii testified.
The testimony came as defense lawyers began producing a steam of witnesses they intend to call to attest to Stevens's character, including former secretary of state Colin L. Powell.
Prosecutors rested their case yesterday against Stevens on charges that he lied on financial disclosure forms to hide more than $250,000 in gifts, including renovations to his home in Girdwood, Alaska, from 1999 through 2006. The government alleges that most of those gifts and renovations were provided by Bill Allen, the chief executive of Veco, a now-defunct oil services company that was one of Alaska's largest private employers.
Stevens's attorneys have argued that the senator paid a subcontractor $160,000 for renovations and blamed Allen for not disclosing other costs to the senator and his wife.
Since the trial started two weeks ago, a litany of Veco workers have testified about work they performed on Stevens's home. They said they jacked the house up on stilts to install a new floor, added a garage and installed two decks.
Yesterday, a Veco welder testified that he spent hundreds of hours laboring on the house with a platoon of other Veco workers in 2000 and 2001. All the work was paid for by Veco, he said.
Veco documents showed the company estimated it financed $188,000 in renovations those years to the Girdwood home. Defense lawyers have challenged the accuracy of those records.
A stream of e-mails introduced by prosecutors revealed that Stevens was closely monitoring the remodeling work. They also introduced two letters sent by Stevens to Allen thanking him for the renovations.
In the letters, Stevens asked for invoices. Prosecutors say the request was an attempt by Stevens to create a paper trail to cover up the free remodeling work in light of scrutiny on lawmakers for accepting such gifts.
Stevens's attorneys have argued the exact opposite: that Stevens requests for the invoices showed he wanted to pay his bills and never intended to lie on forms.
Prosecutors have attempted to show that Stevens was untruthful in many aspects of his disclosures, including his valuation of a 2003 gift from friends of a sled dog bought at auction. An Alaska dog breeder testified yesterday that the dog cost $1,000; Stevens declared its value at $250.
They have also challenged prosecutors' theories about the significance of tape-recorded phone calls between Allen and Stevens in 2006. During the calls, Stevens repeatedly told Allen that they did nothing wrong -- comments that defense lawyers say buttress their argument that Stevens never lied on forms.
But prosecutors have said that Stevens knew something was amiss because he told Allen that "the worst that can happen to us is we run up a bunch of legal fees, and might lose and we might have to pay a fine, might have to serve some time in jail."