The trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens continued today with testimony from several employees of the now-defunct company that allegedly renovated his simple A-frame home in Girdwood, Alaska, into a luxurious three-story structure.
Veco accountant Cheryl Boomershine, the main prosecution witness, discussed in detail invoices and records that employees of the oil field services company submitted to their main office relating to work at Stevens' home. Company invoices and records note references to "Girdwood Utilities" and "Girdwood Consultants," despite the nature of the company's business.
On the second day of the trial at a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., the prosecution also entered into evidence two checks from Stevens and his wife Catherine to Veco for services rendered. The checks, one for $420.28 from 2003 and another for $1,710.41 from August 2005, were for transportation related to trips Stevens took with Veco, and for which he was reimbursing the company.
In July, a grand jury indicted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator, on charges that he lied on required Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal $250,000 worth of gifts, including a major renovation of his home.
Stevens has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Today, the prosecution also submitted into evidence a Veco receipt relating to costs at the Stevens home associated with Rocky Williams, the project supervisor.
Prosecutors provided a detailed review of the construction done on Stevens' home. The jury heard from a roofer, electrician and steel fabrication worker who worked on the house. The testimony included specifics about wires in the house, as well as a generator.
Only one worker testified that he saw Stevens at his house when it was under construction. Another worker, a contractor with Christensen Builders, testified today that Catherine Stevens brought muffins to the construction site one day when she was monitoring the work. Also submitted into evidence was a picture of the house jacked up and placed on stilts.
Government's Key Witness Could Be Monday
The rather uneventful testimony today is expected to lay the groundwork for former Veco CEO Bill Allen's testimony Monday. The lawyers today met in closed session to address issues surrounding surveillance tapes that may be released as early as Monday. The tapes are believed to detail several conversations between Stevens and Allen.
As the government's key witness, Allen has pleaded guilty to federal corruption and bribery charges in Alaska.
The government today filed a motion seeking to limit cross-examination of Allen, who suffered a major head injury in 2001 from a motorcycle accident and is being investigated on criminal charges unrelated to the Stevens case.
In its motion filed today, the government noted, "The Court should limit questioning of these witnesses when the cross-examination strategy behind the questioning will serve no purpose other than to impair the search for the truth; harass, annoy, or humiliate the witness."
The government also noted, "cross-examination of Allen concerning the prior or pending local investigations runs the risk of creating mini-trials on extraneous issues, and distracting the jury from the facts relevant to whether defendant made false statements relating to his personal financial disclosure forms."
The defense has requested Allen's medical records to review his health issues, which it has yet to receive. Judge Emmett Sullivan has said he may postpone his testimony until the defense receives Allen's records.
Prosecution Witness Issues
The seven prosecution witnesses moved so quickly through their testimony today that the government reached the end of its witness list sooner than expected.
That infuriated the judge, especially when he could not get answers out of the prosecutors about their witness line up for Monday and Tuesday. Prosecutors tried in vain to reach the Justice Department for word on witnesses who could be en route to Washington from Alaska over the weekend.
The usually mild-mannered judge excoriated the prosecution: "You better get someone on the phone. ... You better not play games. ... They have more resources at the Justice Department then we have at this court. ... If you don't get someone on the phone, this case is going to evaporate."
After waiting for 10 minutes, Sullivan warned again about having the witnesses ready to go: "I want them lined up. ... I better have some answers."
Prosecutors eventually told the judge that Allen would be their key witness Monday. His testimony is expected to take more than five hours.