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Stevens’ Friend Says Senator Aimed to Pay Bills

A friend of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) denied Wednesday that he had ever suggested the Senator did not intend to pay bills for the renovation of his home.

Stevens has been accused of failing to report on his financial disclosure forms tens of thousands of dollars worth of home renovations provided by Bill Allen, the former chief executive officer of the defunct oil-services company VECO.

Stevens was not at the home regularly while the renovations were going on, so he gave power of attorney to his friend and neighbor Bob Persons.

Allen had testified two weeks ago that when Stevens told him that he needed invoices for the work VECO was doing on the house, Persons told him “don’t worry about getting a bill, Ted’s just worried about covering his ass.”

Asked Wednesday whether he had said that to Allen, Persons replied “No!” and then added under his breath “crazy.”

Persons said he had never been asked about that comment when he testified before the grand jury, and the FBI had never asked him about it in the three interviews they conducted. “Nobody’s ever asked me that question before,” Persons said.

However, Persons admitted that he knew Allen was trying to hide some renovation costs from Stevens.

Earlier in the trial, the prosecution played a tape of a conversation between Allen and Persons regarding a bill that had been sent to Stevens for plumbing work at the house, including the notation “labor paid by Bill.”

Stevens had raised objections to Allen paying the labor costs.

Persons said Wednesday: “I knew that Bill wanted to pay the labor and didn’t want Ted to know about it. … I apologized to him for letting Ted know.”

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