View Full Version : They must be looking for the other end of the bridge

07-31-2007, 09:44 AM
Link (http://www.adn.com/news/politics/fbi/story/9179115p-9095789c.html)
Federal law enforcement agents raided U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens’ Alaska home in Girdwood on Monday, hauling off undisclosed items from inside and taking extensive pictures and video. Officials wouldn’t say what they were looking for or what they found.

“All I can say is that agents from the FBI and IRS are currently conducting a search at that residence,” Dave Heller, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Anchorage office, said Monday.

Neighbors said agents showed up between 11 a.m. and noon, and a commercial locksmith was called to open the front door. The agents were still there at 8:30 p.m. Stevens, 83, has long been the most powerful political figure in Alaska, and a major force in Congress. A swarm of federal agents serving a search warrant at his home is unprecedented in Alaska politics, and represents the latest chapter in the corruption investigation that burst into view last August when agents raided the offices of state legislators, the oil field services company Veco and others.

Federal investigators and grand juries in Anchorage and Washington, D.C., have been seeking information about a remodeling project at Stevens’ Girdwood home in 2000. The project, which more than doubled the size of the dwelling, was overseen by Veco CEO Bill Allen, who two months ago pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Veco vice president Richard Smith pleaded guilty to similar charges.

Stevens said in a written statement that his lawyers were told Monday morning that federal agents “wished to search my home in Girdwood in connection with an ongoing investigation.” He wouldn’t elaborate, nor would his lawyer.

Throughout the afternoon Monday, agents could be seen coming and going from the house, on a dirt street below the Alyeska Ski Resort. Curtains were drawn much of the day, so it was impossible to know what was happening inside. Outside, agents could be seen taking extensive still and video images of the house and surrounding property. The agents were obviously cataloging fixtures and other details of the dwelling, from light switches and electrical outlets to a big stainless steel barbecue grill on a second-floor deck that neighbors said was hoisted there with crane. At one point, agents climbed on the pitched metal roof to take pictures of heat tape in the gutter.

At least two dozen agents were involved. A half-dozen federal vehicles, including a white panel truck with a satellite dish on the roof, were parked in front of the house. At least 10 more federal vehicles were parked at the ski resort’s day lodge parking lot a couple of blocks away.

One agent could be seen carrying a full large black garbage bag out of the house and putting it in the white truck.

The commotion didn’t attract much attention in laid-back Girdwood during the day, though by evening quite a few people had made Stevens’ street part of their evening dog-walking itinerary.

Agents at the house wouldn’t answer questions. Heller, the FBI spokesman in Anchorage, directed other questions to the U.S. Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section in Washington, which has been involved in the investigation with the FBI. A spokesman there had no comment, and neither did a spokesman for the IRS.

Three contractors who worked on the remodeling project told the Daily News in May that their records had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, and others connected with the work and with Stevens said they had been interviewed or called to appear before a grand jury. One of the contractors who worked on the job said he was hired by Veco CEO Bill Allen. The contractor said that his invoices were paid by Stevens and his wife, Catherine, but that the bills were reviewed first by Veco. A federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name, said the FBI is trying to determine whether Stevens has received a hidden benefit stemming from his position in Congress.

If Stevens received renovation work for which he did not pay, it could be deemed unreported income by the IRS. Receipt of unreported renovation work also could amount to an illegal gratuity. Or if it were performed in return for political favors, it could be considered a bribe. Two weeks ago, Stevens told reporters that money for the remodeling came out of his own pocket.

“As a practical matter, I will tell you. We paid every bill that was given to us,” Stevens told reporters. “Every bill that was sent to us has been paid, personally, with our own money, and that’s all there is to it. It’s our own money.”

Stevens’ Washington, D.C., lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, said Monday that he had a “longstanding practice not to comment on such matters” and would not answer any questions about the raid. Sullivan, one of the best-known criminal defense lawyers in Washington, represented former Lt. Col. Oliver North, the central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal in the late 1980s.

Beyond what he said about being notified of the search, Stevens’ written statement Monday echoed what he’s said several times in recent months -- that he’s not commenting on the federal corruption investigation.

“I know Alaskans are interested in my views on the investigation. While I understand this interest and would like to discuss these issues in great detail, the interests of justice and our state are best served if I make my comments after federal officials complete their work."

Stevens said he urged “Alaskans not to form conclusions based upon incomplete and sometimes incorrect reports in the media. The legal process should be allowed to proceed so that all the facts can be established and the truth determined.”

“For over 50 years I have worked hard for Alaskans as part of our territorial, state and federal governments. And I will continue to do all I can to assure that government meets our people’s unique needs.” A total of four former state lawmakers have been charged with bribery, along with a prison-industry lobbyist. One, former Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson, was convicted earlier this summer of bribery and other crimes for taking money from a lobbyist for a private prison company. The others are awaiting trial.

Allen and Smith are awaiting sentencing and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Last August, federal agents served more than 20 search warrants across the state, including at the offices of six state legislators, including Ted Stevens’ son, Ben Stevens, who at the time was president of the state Senate. Ben Stevens has not been charged, but Allen’s guilty plea in May described Veco paying him some $243,000 in phony “consulting” fees while he was in office.

Radar Chief
07-31-2007, 10:26 AM
:LOL: at the title.