Prosecutors Show Stevens’ Awareness of Renovations

Posted October 8, 2008 at 12:00pm

Prosecutors in the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on Wednesday morning showed jurors e-mails, notes and other documents in which Stevens and his friend Bob Persons discussed in detail the renovations at the Senator’s Alaska home, ranging from the pouring of concrete and adding a floor to the house to the selection of fixtures for the Jacuzzi.

The government also introduced memos that were periodically prepared by Stevens’ staff for his review and approval detailing expenditures from his various checking accounts, including cable television bills and exterminator fees.

The prosecution is trying to establish that Stevens knew in detail his personal finances and the progress of his home renovations.

The government alleges that Stevens knew that his friends — particularly Bill Allen, former chief executive officer of the oil services firm VECO — were providing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of renovations to the home, which Stevens did not pay for and did not declare as gifts on his financial disclosure forms.

Stevens’ defense team has argued that the Senator requested bills for the work, paid the bills he received and was otherwise unaware of the details of the work at the house and the costs being incurred because his wife was overseeing the projects and paying the bills.

In one series of e-mails from September 2000, Persons — who was overseeing the renovations for Stevens — told the Senator about preparations to have a plumber and electrician begin work at the house after the exterior walls were complete, and described the location of the Jacuzzi. “Please ask Catherine if she is OK with white fixtures,” he wrote.

FBI agent Michelle Pluta confirmed the validity of the e-mails and also identified a 1999 invoice for $6,300 from VECO for an emergency generator that was installed at Stevens’ home in preparation for the turn of the millennium. Pluta identified an e-mail in which Stevens told Persons that he had asked Allen to install the generator, and she pointed out that the generator was not disclosed as a gift on Stevens’ financial disclosure form.

The e-mails and other records indicated that Stevens was getting and paying bills from several contractors working on the house, but they also make clear that he knew Allen was providing work crews at the house between 2000 and 2002, and there are no records of payment for those crews.

Stevens did send a note to Allen in October 2002 thanking him for all the work he did on the house and reminding him “I need a bill.”

But Allen testified over the past several days that he never generated a bill for Stevens and that he didn’t believe Stevens really wanted one. He also said, however, that if he had ever sent a bill, he suspected Stevens would pay it if the cost was fair.