Ted Stevens Seeks New Trial

3 12 2008

Here we go. Ted Stevens’ lawyers have been busy, and they will soon file a motion seeking a new trial for Alaska’s outgoing senior senator. His recent trial which found him guilty on seven felony counts on failure to disclose gifts and home renovations on his Senate Disclosure Forms was fraught with…weirdness, for lack of a better term. A witness being sent back to Alaska early by the prosecution, evidence being withheld from the defense, a juror having violent outbursts and other jurors trying to vote her off the island, another juror fabricating a story of her own father’s death and skipping town to watch a horse race, a key witness coming forward and admitting he committed perjury and stating that the prosecution showed him documents he wasn’t supposed to see, the same witness revealing a supposed contract on his life from the star witness for the prosecution… If this were the plot of a legal thriller, we’d advise the author to tone it down a bit and make it believable. But real life, as it often happens, is stranger than fiction.

Stevens, who was defeated in a bid for a seventh full term, will ask Judge Emmet Sullivan to overturn his conviction on seven federal corruption counts for failing to disclose more than $250,000 in improper gifts.

Stevens’ defense team raised numerous objections to the Justice Department’s handling of his corruption trial, arguing that the government deliberately withheld potentially exculpatory information and witnesses during the proceedings.

In addition, a prosecution witness, David Anderson, said he was coached by prosecutors on his testimony prior to his appearance as the final government witness, and unofficially promised immunity for himself and his family and friends if he took the witness stand. Prosecutors have vehemently denied Anderson’s allegations. A hearing on Anderson’s claims, laid out in a letter to Judge Sullivan, will be the subject of a hearing next month.

Stevens’ attorneys have not actually filed their request for a new trial yet, but are asking leave from the judge to submit a lengthy motion, one that exceeds local court rules on how long such a document can be.

“The trial in this case took an entire month and gave rise to numerous legal disputes, including motions, evidentiary objections, and juror issues,” Stevens’ attorneys wrote. “The many legal issues cannot adequately be briefed within the local rule’s presumptive 45-page limit. Sen. Stevens accordingly requests this page-limit extension to address the many grounds for a new trial and to preserve these issues in the event of a potential appeal.”

So whatever the reasons the defense will give for asking for a new trial, we know that it will be more than 45 pages worth. My guess is that it will be a LOT more than 45 pages. And it will undoubtedly be a good read, if you’re in to that sort of thing. I’ve been saving a good bottle of wine…





Ted Stevens Corruption Timeline!

28 11 2008

Every once in a while, going through my usual rounds online, I come across an unexpected jewel.  This one came from TPM Muckraker in the form of a wonderfully organized and aesthetically pleasing  Ted Stevens Corruption timeline!

It’s a true tale of descent from Last Frontier Icon, to really old semi-pathetic felon. 

The chronology begins with the fateful line, “Sen. Ted Stevens mentions to his friend, VECO CEO Bill Allen, that his daughter could use a new car,” and it’s all down hill from there.

In reading through the chain of events, there were some details I had forgotten, like this marvelous quote from Stevens at the time of his indictment:

“This is an indictment for failure to disclose gifts that are controversial in terms of whether they were or were not gifts. It’s not bribery; it’s not some corruption; it’s not some extreme felony.”

I don’t know why I always get such a kick out of that quote.  No, he didn’t commit murder, or knock over a bank, or kidnap someone for ransom. And that makes us glad.  But by implication, we’re supposed to feel good that it’s just a garden variety felony, a minor felony, a felony hardly worth mentioning.  Whew!  Dodged a bullet, there.  I was worried for a minute. 

The timeline ends on November 20, 2008 when Stevens makes his last appearance on the Senate floor.  I’m hoping the timeline will continue with updates, because Stevens may be out, but the cadaveric spasms of his long career in Alaska politics continue.

David Anderson, the witness who said he lied under oath regarding an immunity deal, has also stated that the prosecution showed him documents before the trial that he wasn’t legally supposed to see.  Judge Emmett Sullivan, who undoubtedly had been hoping he’d seen the last of this trial has scheduled a hearing for Monday to determine whether Stevens’ attorneys can question Anderson, Allen’s nephew and a welder who worked on Stevens’ renovations….the one’s he ‘forgot’ to disclose on his financial disclosure forms.

The circumstances surrounding this sudden and startling confession of perjury from the penitent welder are still unclear.  Kind of like when you question the “Magic 8 Ball” and it tells you, “Reply hazy….try again later.”

We’ll try again on Monday.





Ted Stevens Prosecution Witness Says He Lied. And Wait…There’s More!

21 11 2008

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Three days after Mark Begich was declared the winner in Alaska’s Senate race of the century, and the day after Ted Stevens yielded the floor of the Senate for the last time, a chief witness for the prosecution in his recent trial came forward with some more than interesting statements.

David Anderson, a witness who testified against Ted Stevens has said in a letter to the Judge Emmett Sullivan that his claims on the stand that he never had an immunity deal with the prosecution were false.  Not only that, Anderson said that the prosecutors coached him and “instructed me on how to sugar coat (the immunity deal) and get it swept under the rug during the trial.”  He also claims that all members of his family and friends, including former State Senator Jerry Ward  would be immune from federal investigation as a result of his agreement.

Ward appears to have been the beneficiary of an illegal campaign contribution by private prison advocate Bill Weimar, who was sentenced to six months in prison this week on a guilty plea to making the payment. Ward has not been charged. The recipient of Weimar’s illegal $20,000 payment was identified in charging documents only as “Candidate A,” but the description matched Ward.

Today, defense attorneys filed the letter from Anderson, a welder who worked on the extensive renovations on the Stevens home that totalled almost $250,000, and which Stevens did not disclose on his Senate Disclosure Forms, leading to seven felony convictions, and his defeat in the general election.

There are only so many times you can say, “You can’t make this stuff up” in one post, so I’m going to save it for the end.  Because there’s more to come.  Really.

In addition to the above, Anderson goes on to talk about being coached, and “groomed” for the trial, and being reminded of the events that happened.  He was shown pictures of the home, paper records, and other materials that he states he had forgotten in the years since the work was done.

In the letter, he states:

Without the preparation from the prosecution and the reminders from them about my activities and the agreement I had with them about my family and myself I would not have given the same testimony.  Without a shadow of doubt I believe this trial would have gone much differently.

Wow.  A belated birthday present for Ted Stevens?  But wait, there’s more.

Possibly the most bizarre allegation in Anderson’s letter is the claim that Bill Allen, (chairman of the oil services company Veco, who was responsible for the home renovations that Stevens was found guilty of not declaring) and his son Mark Allen had taken out a contract on Anderson to have him murdered.  Anderson is Bill Allen’s nephew.  Think I’m ready to say “You can’t make this stuff up?” yet?  Nope.

Stevens’ attorneys demanded a hearing be held to look into the matter. In a court filing Friday, they said the Anderson letter, dated Nov. 15, was new evidence of government misconduct in the case. They’ve already said they planned to seek a new trial or to overturn Stevens’ conviction on Oct. 27 of lying on Senate disclosure forms.

Government prosecutors responded Friday that Anderson’s letter, “simply put,” is untrue. They said that defense lawyers had ample opportunity to question Anderson about the March affidavit when he was on the witness stand, but chose not to.

In the affidavit, the main subject of Anderson’s Nov. 15 letter, Anderson said he agreed to cooperate with the government on condition that prosecutor grant immunity to Ward and his wife Margaret, Ward’s three daughters and their husbands, Anderson’s mother and son, and several others who couldn’t be identified. Anderson lives with one of Ward’s daughters, Kirsten Deacon. She was once Bill Allen’s girlfriend and that fact is the cause of much of the friction between uncle and nephew, Anderson has said.

OK.  Now I’m ready.  You can’t make this stuff up.





Another Election Eve in Alaska. Recount Possibility?

17 11 2008

1600. That’s the magic number. If Mark Begich can increase his lead from 1022 to 1600, it will put him over the recount threshold. If the margin of victory is under .5%, the state will pay for a recount if requested by either candidate, or a group of 10 citizens. If the margin is over .5%, then the candidate would have to pay for a recount himself. An automatic recount is generated only in the unlikely (but nothing would surprise me at this point) event of a tie.

Will Stevens ask for a recount if he comes up short?  It’s anyone’s guess.  If anyone would do it, it’s Ted.  But he may decide to leave well enough alone, and spare himself from his almost certain expulsion from the US Senate.  But Stevens is not one to back down.  Ever.

Let me be the first to say that Alaskans are eagerly looking forward to this election being over.  We were all prepared to wrap it up on November 4th, and are now faced with the election that wouldn’t die.  But, there is a bright side to a potential recount.  Recounts are done by hand count.  It would be interesting to see how a good old-fashioned hand count fared in comparison to the suspect results that come from our particular brand of nefarious vote counting software.  It might be the only vote of integrity Alaskans will have seen for several cycles.

And, if it flips the other way and Stevens regains his advantage, maybe Mark Begich will demand a recount.

The counting finishes tomorrow with approximately 24,000 ballots coming from Anchorage, Southeast Alaska, and the Kenai Penninsula remaining.  When all is said and done it looks like Alaska’s percentage of voter turnout will be about 65%, which is less than the 66% voter turnout just four years ago, despite Palin and Obama on the ticket, and despite the addition of more than 20,000 new registered voters this year.  There are many loose ends to be tied up before this is all over, and once the votes are counted.

And just in time for a little comic relief from the Stevens-Begich duel to the death, check out Juror #11’s Blog! That’s right.  Blogging jurors.  This is a hilarious recounting of the Ted Stevens trial from the perspective of Juror #11.  Too bad she wasn’t allowed to blog during the trial! This is the juror who, although initially pegged as an alternate, got to step in when the infamous Juror #4 fled the scene after making up the story about her father dying, so she could go attend a horse race.

Here’s Juror #11’s summary of the trial’s opening statements: (‘Salmmy’ is Ted Stevens….we don’t know why yet, but have been promised an explanation in the future)

The prosectution: I am Rosie, and Salmmy is guilty of fraud! False Statements! Lying! Receiving Gifts! Furniture! Generator! Free Work done on his house! Statue! Puppy! Stained Glass Window! Mustang! – Wait?! Did she just say Mustang? What was that about a Mustang? Whose Mustang? Are you giving out Free Mustangs? Damn, now I really have to listen to find out more about that mustang! (yes, I love mustangs and am sure at one point I doodled ‘Mustang of love’ a dozen times in my notebook like a love sick teenager. I really hope they shredded those notebooks). Sadly, after the mustang bit my head was a little cloudy, but I think she said that they would prove their evidence in the next couple of weeks.

The defense: I am a whimisical old man! I don’t like microphones or standing in one spot! (I swear his nickname was going to be Orville Redenbocker if he had continued in this vein. I wanted to give him a straw hat, bow tie and a red stripped vest). Luckily he got to the point: Salmmy is innocent! He is old and confused! He hardley even goes to Alaska! His wife handled all the bills! His bestest friend didn’t tell him what was happening! Seriously? Oh, and Bill Allen is the Evil. He tricked Salmmy!

There are also before and after pictures of Ted’s chalet, and other amusing tidbits about the Alaskan trial of the century.  I’ll be putting a link in the sidebar for this one.

And then tomorrow, back to the serious stuff.





Stevens and Stevens. Like Father, Like Son?

10 11 2008

Just in case anyone wasn’t sure, here’s Harry Reid’s take last night, on convicted felon Ted Stevens’ chances of surviving in the Senate should he be re-elected.

“He’s been convicted of seven felonies,” Reid said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “He’s not going to be in the Senate.”

The majority leader was a bit more gentle about Stevens’s close friend, Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who campaigned for the Republican in Alaska during the time-consuming trial and will soon assume the chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee after West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd announced Friday he would be stepping aside.

“I just said Senator Inouye is wrong,” Reid said. “All the Republicans, John Ensign [Nev.], head of the Republican senatorial campaign committee, Republican leader [Mitch] McConnell [Ky.] and a long list of people said that he’s going to be kicked out of the Senate. Of course he is. He is not going to survive.”

(Tangent: So Senator Inouye who is 84 years old, is trying to help Ted Stevens who is 84 years old, keep his job. And he is also replacing Robert Byrd who will turn 91 next week, as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Can anyone say “Term Limits?!?”)

Not sounding too good for Uncle Ted. I wonder if he’s secretly hoping to lose, so that he doesn’t have to face the humiliation of expulsion. What a way to end a career of four decades in the Senate. Ouch.

There’s another thing that nobody seems to be talking about much. This may not be the only trouble in Ted Stevens’ future. There’s a whole lot of unanswered questions, and ongoing investigation into some dealings with Ted, and his son, former State Senate President Ben Stevens.

Back in September of 2007, while local talk radio personality Dan Fagan was talking about the legal problems of the Stevenses, Ben was listening in. And Ben decided to call the radio station. Now, keep in mind that Ben Stevens had his Senate office raided by the FBI back in 2006.

Ben Stevens is under investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the the National Marine Fisheries Service, but maintained his innocence and called this whole investigation a “feeding frenzy” and a “blood bath.” The show’s host, Dan Fagan asked him about the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, where Stevens and his father’s former top legislative aide, Trevor McCabe, served together while simultaneously accepting consulting fees from the very companies they awarded federal grants. The grants themselves, of course, came from Ben’s dad.

“I didn’t receive anything [while on the board],” Stevens told Fagan. “I’ve got a 30-year relationship with the fishing business. I’ve been working for many companies and many entities and some of that overlapped, but it didn’t have anything to do with what happened on that board.”

Unfortunately for Ben, the facts don’t support his story. Stevens and McCabe founded their fishing consulting company in the last week of 2002, immediately before the marketing board started accepting applications for federal grants. It’s unclear how much money the duo raked in running the company, Advance North, but Stevens listed accepting $775,435 from nine fishing companies on his public disclosure forms between 2001 and 2005.

And how did Stevens and McCabe get these nice seats? The elder Stevens created the marketing board and funded it with $29 million, but Ben claims nepotism played no part in his getting the job of chairman.

“My father didn’t appoint me to the board, Dan,” Stevens said on the radio. “I was appointed to the board by the governor and confirmed by the Secretary of Commerce. The board members elected me as the chairman, not my father.”

He forgot to mention who submitted his name for nomination — that would be his dad.

And yes, Alaskans know all about this one too. They do seem to harbor fonder feelings for Stevens the Elder than they do toward Stevens the Lesser, who stepped down from his State Senate seat to…..wait for it…..spend more time with his family. It was almost universally believed that Ben Stevens would be convicted first. When people heard the news, they kept saying, “Ted? Are you sure it’s not Ben? It’s TED?!?”

So this whole “Failure to disclose gifts on Senate Disclosure Forms” may only be the tip of the iceberg. The FBI works in mysterious ways. Now that the election is (almost) over, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear from them again.

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Republicans Speak on the Stevens Conviction.

27 10 2008

Sarah who?  Today’s theme in Alaska has been “All Ted, All the Time.”  To be honest, it’s been sort of refreshing to have a break.  We needed to cleanse the brain with something completely different – a mental sorbet between courses of Sarah Palin. 

Let’s ask the obvious question.  “Senator Stevens, what do you have to say for yourself?”

“I am obviously disappointed in the verdict but not surprised given the repeated instances of prosecutorial misconduct in this case. … I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have. I am innocent. This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial. I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights. I remain a candidate for the United States Senate.”

That was quick, and it’s no surprise.  Stevens plans to blame the system, and appeal the verdict.  And, yes, he will continue his campaign to retain his Senate seat, and asks for the support of his constituents and fellow Senators.

So (rolling up sleeves) we’ve heard what Ted has to say.  What about those national Republican and Senate leaders for whose support he has asked?  What do they have to say about their colleague in peril? 

“This is a sad but serious day. Sen. Stevens was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and now must face the consequences of those actions. As a result of his conviction, Sen. Stevens will be held accountable so the public trust can be restored.” – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

OK.  Senate Minority Leader sounds pretty disappointed.  “Face the consequences”, “held accountable”…..Sounds like Mitch McConnell is thinking self-preservation and taking a giant step away from the convicted felon.  McConnell is running for re-election in a race that’s a little to close for comfort, and can ill-afford the Stevens albatross around his neck.

“This is a sad day for the United States Senate. Ted Stevens served his constituents for over 40 years and I am disappointed to see his career end in disgrace. Sen. Stevens had his day in court and the jury found he violated the public’s trust – as a result he is properly being held accountable. This is a reminder that no one is above the law.” – Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Well, it’s pretty obvious that the Republican Senate leadership has pretty much thrown Ted under the bus.  And it’s not surprising, really.  Once the suffix “convicted felon” appears after a politicians name, any continued affiliation with them is pretty much political suicide.  Nobody, but NObody in the Republican Party would be foolish enough to snuggle up to Ted Stevens at this point.  I mean it would be like holding a big sign that said “I Pal Around With a Convicted Felon!”   Right, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski?

“Given today’s verdict, it’s a sad day indeed for Sen. Stevens and his family as well as for Alaska. Ted Stevens is an honorable, hardworking Alaskan who has served our state well for as long as we have been a state….Ted has asked for Alaskans and his Senate colleagues to stand with him as he pursues his legal rights. He stood with Alaskans for 40 years, and I plan to continue to stand with him.” – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

You guessed right.  Murkowski is NOT up for re-election this year.  But Rep. Don Young IS.

“I’m deeply disappointed. It surprises me. I don’t think he had a jury of his peers. That’s the way it goes. I’m sure there will be an appeal. If you watched the conduct of the court with the one juror leaving and going out and, of course, the actions of the prosecutors themselves, there definitely will be an appeal, and it will go for a long period of time.” – Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

Hit the brakes!  What’s this?  He didn’t have a jury of his peers?  What peers do you mean Rep. Young?  All the other members of Alaska’s infamous “Corrupt Bastards Club?”   Ohhh… that’s right, they are either in jail, testifying against Stevens, or are actually his offspring.  Guess that means he’ll have to settle for some other kind of jury…like the one selected by the attorneys on both sides.

What about that other Alaskan politician that’s been in the news lately?  What’s her name, again?

“This is a sad day for Alaska and for Sen. Stevens and his family. The verdict shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company that was allowed to control too much of our state. … As governor of the state of Alaska, I will carefully monitor this situation and take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system. I’m confident Sen. Stevens will do what’s right for the people of Alaska.” – Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska.

Interesting.  So it’s the corrupting influence of big oil, not the corrupt compliance of politicians.  Subtle distinction.  It wasn’t Ted’s fault…it was those darn kids he was hanging around with that got him into trouble.   Then she tosses some word salad, with meaningless filler croutons.  And then “Respecting the workings of our judicial system” sounds good…but is she talking about the verdict we just got, or Ted’s upcoming appeal?  And what will Senator Stevens do that is “right for the people of Alaska?”  Does that mean step down, or continue to run?  In a nutshell, Sarah Palin said absolutely nothing with any substance.  How very…..Sarah Palin.

But, after all this, what is the official comment from the Republican Party of the State of Alaska?  THE most important Alaskan Republican in the history of the state has just been indicted on seven felony counts.  He has been tried by a jury of his peers, in front of the nation.  He has been held up to the world as an example of the degradation, rampant greed, and incomprehensible hubris of the Republican Party.  Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator in history, once third in line to the Presidency,  has been castigated and rebuked by the national Republican Senate leaders.  He is the poster boy for how far, long, and hard the Republicans have fallen.  What say you, Alaskan Republicans?  How do you console and guide your stricken party members who are reeling from betrayal and humiliation.  Let’s face it…the last two years have been pretty tough on Alaska Republicans, and now the demi-God of the party has just poured salt in the wounds.   I’m sorry Republican Party…I had asked you a question.  You were saying?

“We need to continue to support Sen. Stevens. We need to vote for him because a vote for him is a vote for a conservative candidate, a Republican who best represents the interests and beliefs of Alaskans. … We don’t know what happens in the future. But if you don’t want Mark Begich, you vote for Ted Stevens.” – McHugh Pierre, spokesman for the Alaska Republican Party.

You heard it here, kids.  The Alaskan Republican Party has just reaffirmed their endorsement of, and told you to vote for A CONVICTED FELON!  You show ’em Alaska Republicans!  Hold your head high, walk in to the voting booth with the blessing of your political party, fill in that little oval, and vote with impunity for A CONVICTED FELON!  Drive home with a satisfied smile, kiss your spouse, and say, “What did you do today, Honey?  I voted for A CONVICTED FELON!”  Proudly call your friends and relatives out of state, and tell them how you, and all your buddies in the Republican party, puffed out your chests, and proudly hitched your wagon to the star of an 84-year old CONVICTED FELON!  Maybe you should call your local party headquarters and suggest a fundraiser…you could do t-shirts, and hats that say, “I VOTED FOR A CONVICTED FELON!” 

Then, put your feet up, and watch the national news, and watch a couple political talk shows, and wonder to yourself, “How did Alaska become a laughing stock?”

 

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Ted Stevens Trial Resumes

27 10 2008

Well, it’s Monday, and the Alaskan “trial of the century” resumes. Apparently, Juror #4, who left Washington D.C. last week because of the death of her father, could not be reached over the weekend, leaving the Judge to appoint one of the four alternate jurors to take her place.

The jury must now go back to square one, and begin their deliberations over again about whether Senator Ted Stevens is guilty of seven felony indictments for failure to disclose more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations on his Senate disclosure forms. Two full days of deliberation are lost, but the trial will now continue.

Although it’s impossible to tell exactly where they were in their deliberations before losing – and then regaining – a juror, the jury appears to be moving at a pretty fast clip so far. They got the case Wednesday afternoon and sent Sullivan a note Thursday afternoon asking to go home a little early and saying they had reviewed all of the instructions.

It was a positive development for the jury, which has had more than its share of theatrics since it began its deliberations. The judge took note.

“Everyone was smiling, everyone seems to be in a good mood this morning,” the judge said. “No one appeared to be agitated or displeased. That’s all I have to say.”

Their first day of deliberations last week, jurors asked to go home early because they were stressed and needed “clarity.” The second day, Thursday, 11 of the jurors complained in a note about a 12th juror and asked her to be removed from the panel for being rude and prone to “violent outbursts with other jurors.” The judge resolved the problem with a stern lecture on civility and the jurors left Thursday afternoon, seemingly in harmony.

While it’s fairly common for juries to proceed and reach a verdict with only 11 jurors, less than that is almost unheard of. It’s possible that Judge Sullivan decided to place an alternate, rather than proceeding with 11 jurors, in case Juror #9 acts up again and ends up being removed.