Gov Witness Takes Stand in Stevens Trial

Former VECO CEO details his friendship and dealings with Alaska senator.

ByABC News
September 30, 2008, 7:36 PM

Sept. 30, 2008 — -- Former VECO CEO, Bill Allen who pleaded guilty in 2007 in an Alaska influence peddling scheme, testified about his friendship with Stevens, which began in 1982. The government alleges that Allen, As the head of VECO, showered favors upon Stevens which Stevens never filed in his Senate financial disclosure forms.

The case against Stevens and other public corruption investigations in Alaska gained momentum in May 2007 after Allen and Richard Smith, the former VECO vice president of community affairs and government relations, pleaded guilty to federal charges of illegally shuttling more than $400,000 to various elected officials in Alaska. Under his plea agreement Allen has agreed to cooperate with the FBI and Justice Department in an ongoing public corruption investigation.

In the first of two days of testimoney from Allen, prosecutors focused on a deal in which Stevens accepted a 1999 Land Rover Discovery, worth $44,000, that from Allen in exchange for the senator's 1964 Mustang and $5,000.

"Ted knew I liked old cars," Allen said, but the former oil man said he didn't think it was an equal trade.

Allen testified that Stevens' brother-in-law, Bill Bittner, wanted to get the Mustang back from Allen but that the muscle car had been shipped to Allen's girlfriend in Seattle. Allen also said that the Senator wanted to give Allen about five or six guns in order to get his Mustang back. Allen said he was not really into guns and that he told Stevens, "don't do that till you get out of the Senate."

Allen, who built the VECO corporation from a small pipe company of 10 construction workers in the 1970s to Alaska's largest private company by 2000, said he got to know Stevens after meeting him during the 1982 campaign cycle. Allen said that by 1984 he was becoming more involved in politics and eventually hired a lobbyist to help his interests in state politics.

Over the years Stevens and Allen became close friends who often went fishing and traveled together. Allen said that for five or six years he and Stevens held their own "Boot Camp" which Allen described as a retreat: "No hard liquor -- just drink wine and have a cigar, try and get some pounds off," he said.