Stevens’ Team Closes With Defense of Senator’s Character

Posted October 21, 2008 at 4:03pm

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ defense attorney completed his closing argument this afternoon, telling jurors that “a good life is worth something” and that the testimony of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and others who vouched for the Republican Senator’s character should be enough to cast reasonable doubt on the government’s allegations.

“Without sufficient evidence, the government comes here late in the night of a good man’s life and they try to brand him a criminal,” Sullivan said.

“You have the power to do what’s right. You have the power to say ‘not guilty’ seven times.”

Sullivan spent about a quarter of his three-hour closing argument trying to debunk what he called the “bombshell” testimony of the trial: Bill Allen’s claim that he was told the Senator was not seriously requesting bills for the renovation to his house. Instead, he was just “covering his ass.”

Stevens is charged with seven counts of failing to report gifts worth about $250,000 on his annual financial disclosure forms, mainly in the form of renovations to his Alaska home from Allen, chief executive officer of the now-defunct oil-services firm VECO.

Sullivan pointed out that Allen gave other reasons for failing to send bills on other occasions — including that he was not sure how to account for the time VECO had spent on the house — and that Stevens repeatedly requested bills. The person who Allen said told him the Senator was “covering his ass” denied that he said it and said he was never asked about it by the government.

Sullivan asked the jury to balance the testimony of Powell and Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) against Allen’s, and to decide who was more believable.

Sullivan pointed out that Allen has a plea agreement with the government that requires him to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for a promise that Allen’s son would not face criminal charges.