Prosecutors Paint Stevens as Savvy Pol

Posted September 25, 2008 at 9:57am

As the first federal trial of a sitting U.S. Senator in more than 27 years opened Thursday, federal prosecutors sought to depict Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) as a savvy career politician who knowingly received numerous gifts from a small circle of loyalists.

[IMGCAP(1)]“This is a simple case about a public official who took hundreds and thousands dollars worth of free financial benefits, and then took away the public’s right to know that information,” prosecutor Brenda Morris said in her opening argument to the court.

She later said: “This case is about concealment … [of] things that the defendant received from friends and benefactors, who were the powerful.”

Defense attorney Brendan Sullivan will present his opening argument to jurors next.

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 from the now-defunct VECO oil services firm, primarily in renovations to his home in Girdwood, Alaska. He has pleaded not guilty.