Stevens Seeks to Limit Prosecutors’ Evidence

Posted August 26, 2008 at 1:13pm

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) asked a federal judge Monday to prohibit government attorneys from introducing evidence at his upcoming trial — including allegations that he failed to declare an interest-free $31,000 loan to finance a Florida real estate deal — asserting that prosecutors disclosed the information in “an obvious attempt to smear the Senator’s character.”

Stevens is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 22 on seven counts of filing false financial statements to conceal the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts over an eight-year period. He has denied any wrongdoing and last month pleaded not guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In court documents filed Monday, Stevens’ attorney, Brendan Sullivan, disparaged government prosecutors for detailing evidence that they intend to introduce at trial — including the real estate deal and loan, as well as allegations that Stevens received a free home generator, that his daughter received a new automobile for less than market value and that Stevens sought employment for his son and grandson — calling it an “unnecessarily public filing.”

Stevens’ motion also criticized the government’s release of excerpts from e-mails showing the Senator’s awareness of the federal investigation into state and federal corruption in Alaska, noting that “presumably the governments contends that these emails show consciousness of guilt.”

One of those excerpts came in an e-mail issued in September 2006, one day after FBI agents executed search warrants for several properties in Alaska, including ones related to his son, former Alaska State Senate President Ben Stevens; offices of the pipeline company VECO; and Steven’s Girdwood home.

According to prosecutors, Stevens wrote an e-mail to a “Person A,” stating: “[P]ress releases say the FBI served a warrant in Girdwood??? Did they hit our house? T.”

Sullivan argued that Stevens’ concerns were not out of line, writing: “Sen. Steven’s son spent a significant amount of time at the Senator’s Girdwood residence. Accordingly, when Sen. Stevens learned that authorities had search an unnamed location in Girdwood, he reasonably asked whether that location was his house.”

He continued: “This evidence hardly proves the Senator’s ‘consciousness of guilt’ with respect to unrelated charges of false statements.”

In addition, Stevens also released the text of two other e-mails cited by the government, which had sought to show the Alaskan had influenced the testimony of “Person A” in May 2007 in advance of grand jury proceedings.

Although “Person A” is not identified in court documents, the e-mail address shown on those e-mails, “MuskyX2,” matches that of Bob Persons, a longtime friend of Stevens.

In the messages, Stevens advises “Person A” on how to proceed before the grand jury, recommending that he hire an attorney and writing in one e-mail: “If they know you have legal advice, they will be more careful.”

“I seriously doubt you are going to be a target on the chalet …” Stevens wrote. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Persons filed the city permits needed in July 2000 for the remodeling of Stevens’ home.

“Again, don’t let them rattle you and don’t answer questions you don’t KNOW the answers to,” Stevens continued in his e-mail. “They have lots of info from [former VECO CEO] Bill [Allen] — I do not know the scope of that so far as you are concerned. They gave me a two page single spaced list of issues and people they were interested in And, they have asked for a ‘voluntary search agreement’. We have not agreed ot that yet. I told the lawyers I didn’t have anything to hide but they are resisting trying to get the Feds to issue specific subject subpoenas. Twice before in the situation you are in I answered questions before the grand jury and answered their questions and that was the end of it. I hope this is the end for you also. best teds .”

In a separate filing, Stevens’ attorneys also sought to permit the exposure of several expected witnesses’ past criminal activities. Prosecutors had earlier sought a motion to prohibit those individuals criminal records from being discussed in court.

At least four witnesses have significant criminal records, including two people, identified only as “Witness C” and “Witness D,” convicted in the mid-1980s of felony manslaughter and “failure to give information of an accident causing death, injury or damage,” respectively.

“Witness C’s and Witness D’s convictions may be relevant to establish their motivation for testifying against Senator Stevens — namely the hope that by cooperating with the government these witnesses will receive more lenient sentences for their alleged criminal acts that their criminal histories otherwise would dictate under Federal Sentencing Guidelines,” Sullivan argued.