Jurors Hear Stevens Talk Of Possible Punishment
FBI Enlisted Benefactor And Taped Phone Calls
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Jurors heard secretly recorded telephone conversations yesterday in which Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) told a chief prosecution witness that the two men had done nothing wrong and that the worst punishment they could expect was a fine and a little jail time.
The tapes, recorded with the consent of the witness, former Veco chief executive Bill Allen, did not appear to be the smoking guns in Stevens's trial on charges that he lied on financial disclosure forms to hide gifts that included renovations to his Alaska home.
They did reveal, however, that Stevens was aware the FBI was closely scrutinizing the remodeling project. On the calls, Stevens expressed defiance at the federal investigation and told Allen that he would stick by him. He seemed unaware that Allen, a close friend, was helping federal agents.
"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," Stevens told Allen in a call recorded in October 2006. "I hope to Christ it never gets to that. . . . I don't think we have done anything wrong."
Stevens (R) is charged with lying on financial disclosure forms to hide receiving more than $250,000 in gifts, including renovations to his home in Girdwood, Alaska. Federal prosecutors allege that many of the gifts and renovations were financed by Allen.
Allen has pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges in an extensive federal investigation of Alaska politics. His testimony has helped convict two state legislators on corruption charges.
Under cross-examination by Stevens's lead attorney, Brendan Sullivan, Allen admitted that he never tried to bribe Stevens, whom he said he deeply respected.
"You knew you couldn't bribe Senator Ted Stevens, could you?" Sullivan asked him.
"No," he replied.
The former executive revealed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington that FBI agents approached him on Aug. 30, 2006, and asked for his cooperation. The next day, he recorded the first of what appears to be several phone conversations he had with Stevens.
In the first call, Allen told Stevens that his home and office had been raided by federal agents. Stevens said he would back his friend, "no matter what comes up."
"Let's stick this thing out together," Stevens said.