Jury Hears Tape of Stevens’ Conversations

Posted October 6, 2008 at 10:39am

In telephone conversations recorded by the FBI and played for a jury Monday, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) repeatedly told his friend Bill Allen that he believed they had done nothing wrong amid a federal investigation into their activities.

Stevens is charged with seven counts of filing false statements over an eight-year period to conceal the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts — primarily in the form of renovations to his Girdwood, Alaska, home — from Allen, who was the chief executive officer of the now-defunct oil services firm VECO.

In several 2006 telephone conversations that Allen was secretly recording, Stevens warned Allen that they should not attempt to disrupt a federal investigation into their activities, for fear of facing additional charges of obstruction of justice.

Steven said he believed they had done nothing wrong and added, “you got to have some faith in the system and some faith in the jurors.”

“These guys can’t really hurt us,” Stevens said. “They’re not going to shoot us.” The worst that could happen, he said, would be that they would run up some legal bills, “might have to pay a fine” or ultimately “spend a little time in jail.”

It is not clear that at the time of the calls — August though October of 2006 — Stevens understood what the FBI was looking into, although Allen told Stevens in the first phone call that the FBI had asked who paid for what at the house. Stevens seemed primarily concerned about issues of campaign contributions and other political activity, while the charges against him center around personal gifts provided to him by Allen and VECO.

Stevens’ lawyers have argued that the Senator paid every bill that was presented to him for the renovations at his home.

Allen also testified that Stevens asked him to provide a full billing for the work done there but that Allen chose not to do so because it would have been difficult to extract invoices from VECO’s books.