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Oct 8, 2008

Witness deal in Stephens Trial.

Ted Stephens.

It is pretty obvious that Ted Stephens is dirty, there is little doubt about it. A trial needs to be fair and above board however, and this one is becoming increasingly disturbing.

Already there has been problems with prosecution disclosure, the release of a witness who could have evidence benefiting the defense, a witness being given signals by his lawyer during evidence, and now the generous deal done to secure the cooperation of the defendants ‘partner in crime.’

A NYT article, “Stevens’s Lawyer Challenges Witness,” lays out some of the largesse.
Brendan Sullivan, the defense lawyer, suggested in his brisk questioning of Bill Allen, an Alaska oil services tycoon, that Mr. Allen had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors for an explicit promise by the government not to interfere with a pending sale of his company, Veco, for $380 million.

Mr. Stevens, Republican of Alaska, is facing criminal charges that he knowingly failed to list on Senate disclosure forms some $250,000 in gifts and services from Mr. Allen and Veco, largely for renovating the Stevens home in Alaska.

Mr. Sullivan also had Mr. Allen acknowledge that “an explicit part of the contract” to sell the company “was to cooperate with the government” because the buyers were concerned about whether a corruption investigation he was involved in could damage Veco.

The central dramatic hinge of the trial has been Mr. Allen’s role in testifying against Mr. Stevens, once a close friend. ….. Mr. Allen agreed to do so on the day in August 2006 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation confronted him with overwhelming evidence including videotapes that he was at the heart of a scheme to bribe state lawmakers.

In his cross-examination of Mr. Allen, Mr. Sullivan questioned him about the agreement he reached with the government in 2007 in which he pleaded guilty to three felonies. The plea agreement explicitly provided that in exchange for his cooperation, the government would not prosecute Mr. Allen’s grown children nor Veco.

Mr. Allen offered a terse “yes” to each of Mr. Sullivan’s questions, including whether the contract to sell the company included a provision to hold back $70 million of the purchase price to ensure that Veco did not find itself in legal difficulties because of the bribery schemes. ….

“You knew that what was said was being taped. Is that correct?” Mr. Sullivan asked. “You reached out to him.”
In the sale price of Veco is a penalty clause delaying the payment of $70 million of the sale price against the chance of the company being affected by the proceedings.

I find it extremely disturbing to find that a person as equally guilty as the defendant is given a deal where he not only receives immunity, or in this case near immunity for what he has done, he gets immunity for family members involved, and his company which was benefiting from his actions.

In return for testimony Bill Allen not only gets to plead to lesser charges, but looks set to benefit by $70 million, that would have been lost if the company was damaged by the investigation.

A similar case happened over here with the Fitsgerald inquiry, where probably the most corrupt cop in the state, an instigator the bagman for the whole corrupt edifice, was given immunity in exchange for shopping people who were no worse than him.

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