Thanks for stopping by to check out another day in my life. I hope you are enjoying cooler weather as I am glad that summer is almost over.
I received some very interesting news from a friend in Washington, DC about the upcoming trial of Senator Stevens from Alaska. Senator Stevens has been accused of not reporting over $250,000 of gifts and services and how the Senator came to be caught and arrested.
The day after the F.B.I. confronted Bill Allen, an Alaska oil services millionaire, with evidence that he had tried to bribe state lawmakers, he reached out to Senator Ted Stevens by telephone to discuss how their relationship might also be the subject of a corruption investigation. Mr. Stevens did not know that Mr. Allen had agreed to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was listening in and recording the call on Aug. 31, 2006, as it would with two others in the following weeks.
In the three conversations between Mr. Stevens and Mr. Allen played for a federal jury on Monday, Mr. Stevens repeatedly says he believes they did nothing wrong, but also raises the possibility they could go to jail if they are not careful.
Mr. Stevens, an Alaska Republican, is in the second week of a trial involving felony charges that he knowingly concealed some $250,000 in gifts and services from Mr. Allen, mostly for renovations to his Alaska home.
Mr. Allen, the main prosecution witness, has been on the stand since last week. Prosecutors contend that Mr. Stevens knew full well that the gifts and services from Mr. Allen and his company, the Veco Corporation, were provided to him free. Mr. Allen, a hulking former welder who ended up running a company that was worth $380 million, and Mr. Stevens, a Harvard Law School graduate who has represented Alaska in the Senate for 40 years, were once close friends, going to resorts together and sharing ownership of a racehorse.
Mr. Allen testified that he had not sent bills for the work done on the Stevens home by Veco workers for several reasons. He said he had liked and admired Mr. Stevens and wanted to help him. But he also testified that although Mr. Stevens sent him two notes asking for bills, the senator sent an emissary who told him explicitly not to furnish them. The emissary told him that the notes asking for bills were simply to create a record to protect Mr. Stevens. In his testimony and taped calls, Mr. Allen comes across as clearly pained by his role in testifying against Mr. Stevens.
Although Mr. Allen often seemed a reluctant prosecution witness, he acknowledged that he had agreed to become one as part of a deal with the Justice Department. He has already been convicted of three felony counts relating to his bribing of state legislators. He agreed to cooperate on the first day he was approached by the F.B.I. in exchange for a promise that his grown children would not be prosecuted, he said. He has not yet been sentenced because prosecutors will make a recommendation based on his cooperation in the Stevens trial. In the taped conversations, Mr. Stevens, for his part, repeatedly tries to calm Mr. Allen, telling him he is “one of my best friends” and urging him to take care of his health.
Mr. Stevens’s chief lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, began his cross-examination of Mr. Allen gently on Monday, having him agree that he was a generous man who liked to do favors for people like Mr. Stevens. Mr. Sullivan noted that Mr. Stevens had done “guy things together” and that Mr. Allen had stayed overnight several times in the Stevens home. The relationship was “one of pure friendship, wasn’t it,” Mr. Sullivan asked. Mr. Allen responded to all such questions with a simple “yes” or “yep.”
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of Federal District Court put off until Tuesday a hearing on the defense lawyers’ latest call for a mistrial over what they said was evidence that the Justice Department had improperly withheld information from them. The department has called the claim “theatrics and hyperbole” and said prosecutors had not withheld any information they have been required to turn over. Judge Sullivan earlier admonished prosecutors on two occasions for failings, though he declined to declare a mistrial.
Being involved in politics for many years as I have been I have to admit I am not surprised by the arrogance and sense of entitlement Senator Stevens has demonstrated. Sad but true. So I am hoping personally that the court throws the book at the Senator and makes an example of him. Until corruption sees the light of day, it tends to hide in the shadows.
What are your thoughts? Send me an email and let me know.
Wishing you health, hope and happiness.
big bear hug,