Ted Stevens got a massage chair, dog, prosecutors claim

Anchorage Daily NewsSeptember 8, 2008 

In a filing Monday, federal prosecutors revealed more evidence in their case against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, detailing a new round of gifts that he allegedly failed to disclose between 2001 and 2003.

The government said the items were a $1,000 sled dog, a $3,200 hand-built stained glass window and a $2,695 massage chair. They are in addition to the $250,000-plus in labor and materials allegedly provided by the oil-field service company Veco Corp. when it renovated and furnished Stevens' Girdwood home starting in 2000.

The disclosure of the additional gifts came in a round of filings Monday. Each side asked U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to adopt its version of the case to be read to prospective jurors when they gather in two weeks for Stevens' trial in Washington, D.C. The statement of the case is supposed to be a neutral rendition of the issues at trial, but each side clearly jockeyed for advantage.

Sullivan may choose to draft his own version, steering somewhere between the two advocates.

Stevens says he is innocent and will be vindicated by a jury. He asked for a speedy trial, hoping a verdict in his favor would be rendered before the November election. Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator, is seeking his seventh full term.

Stevens' lawyers devoted only a seven-word phrase in a single sentence to describe the renovations. They used more words for the newly reported items, but spoke dismissively of them.

"The government further alleges that Sen. Stevens knowingly and willfully failed to report an alleged gift of stained glass, knowingly and willfully failed to report an alleged gift of a dog, and knowingly and willfully failed to report an alleged gift of a chair," Stevens said in his version of the statement of the case.

For its part, the government devoted a long paragraph to the renovations, describing how a floor was added to Stevens' home along with a wrap-around deck, new rooms, and major electrical and plumbing work.

The chair wasn't just a chair, the government said, but a $2,695 massage chair given to Stevens by a friend identified only as "Person A." The chair was placed in Stevens' home in Washington, it said.

The stained glass wasn't just stained glass either. It was a "hand-designed, hand-constructed stained glass window built to specifications provided by the defendant and his spouse, but paid for by ‘Person B' and given to Stevens in 2001."

And the dog wasn't just a mutt from the pound. It was an expensive sled dog Stevens got from "Person B" in 2003. The government alleged Stevens misrepresented the dog as a $250 gift from the nonprofit Kenai River Sportfishing Association, a group closely associated with his friend, Bob Penney. In his 2003 disclosure, Stevens said the dog was "an honorary award in recognition of public service" and that he had purchased its twin for $250.

In a separate motion, Stevens' attorneys asked Judge Sullivan to order the release of the medical records of Bill Allen, the former chairman of Veco, who suffered a head injury in a motorcycle accident in 2001.

Allen, who pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators and who is expected to be the chief witness against Stevens, said in testimony in state court last year that he had trouble speaking because of the accident, though he could think clearly.

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