Ex-Confidant Testifies Against Stevens
Bill Allen, the wealthy, eccentric energy company executive who started working in Alaska oil fields as a high schooler, today took the witness stand against his one-time close friend, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, in the lawmaker's public corruption case.
Allen, 71, is the government's star witness against Stevens and testified about the gifts he lavished on "Uncle Ted," Alaska's most recognizable and politically important figure. The Associated Press reports that Allen told jurors how he helped transform Stevens's small A-frame cabin into a two-story home, complete with a garage, sauna, wine cellar and wraparound porches, at a cost of $250,000. (The house also featured a fish statue that could be "illuminated" with the flick of a switch.)
Stevens has denied that he knowingly accepted the gifts, saying he paid $160,000 for the improvements and thought that amount covered it.
Allen pleaded guilty more than a year ago to bribing state lawmakers to help push an oil production tax favorable to his company, Veco Corp. He has not been sentenced and is cooperating with the government's investigation.
During testimony today, Allen said he also helped Stevens out in 1999 after the senator said he was fearful that the Y2K computer bug would shut down the power grid and leave him in the dark.
"So I went and got a generator and put it in," Allen testified.
"Did he ask you for this?" prosecutor Joseph Bottini asked, according to the AP.
"Yeah, he said he needed a generator," Allen responded, his head lowered, as he told jurors that Stevens never paid for the generator, which cost at least $5,000.
A year ago, Allen told a federal jury in Alaska that he personally oversaw the remodeling of Stevens's house near Anchorage. He said he visited the home about once a month and gave the senator some of his old furniture.
Allen was testifying against former Alaska House speaker Pete Kott, who was convicted of supporting the favorable tax legislation sought by Allen in exchange for cash and a future job.
Allen's testimony will prove crucial to whether Stevens, 84, will be able to politically survive the criminal case.
The AP reports that the "fiercely loyal Stevens did not acknowledge" Allen as he entered the courtroom and that the two men "barely looked at each other as Allen prepared to testify." Before the criminal investigation into Stevens began, the men were friends for 26 years.
Allen has been described by prosecutors as a profane and wily corporate executive who carried around hundred-dollar bills in his front pocket so he could bribe lawmakers. In Juneau, some lawmakers have been so accustomed to working under the presumption of impropriety, The Post's Karl Vick wrote, that several don embroidered ball caps with the letter CBC, for "Corrupt Bastards Club."
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