Drama Continues at Ted Stevens Trial

Judge "disturbed" that attorney appears to have coached testifying witness.

ByABC News
October 6, 2008, 7:17 PM

Oct. 6, 2008— -- In a trial that could hardly be fraught with more errors, it now appears that the U.S. government's key witness in its corruption trial against Sen. Ted Stevens might have been coached by his attorney while on the stand.

Former CEO of VECO, Bill Allen, might have had his attorney in the courtroom signaling answers to him while he was on the witness stand during cross-examination by the defense. Judge Emmett Sullivan called Allen's attorney Robert Bundy to the courtroom dais when Allen's testimony had concluded for the day.

"Why shouldn't I hold you in contempt of court right now?" the judge asked.

"It's clear he was signaling an answer to the witness," Sullivan said, ordering the attorney out of his courtroom.

"I'm disturbed that an attorney would sit out there and communicate with a witness," the judge added.

Allen is at the heart of the prosecutors' case against Stevens, 84, the longest-serving Republican senator, who has held his seat as Alaska senator since 1968.

Prosecutors claim Allen and his company paid for a massive renovation project to Stevens' Girdwood, Alaska home and gave him several valuable gifts, which the senator allegedly failed to report on financial disclosure forms required by the U.S. Senate.

Joseph Bottini, an assistant U.S. attorney from Alaska working on the case, said he had known Bundy for years and would be surprised the communication was intentional.

And defense attorney Brendan Sullivan said he had not noticed the apparent signals from Bundy to Allen during his lengthy cross-examination for the day.

Through much of the day, attorney Sullivan cross-examined Allen, the lead government witness in the case. Allen, who suffers from hearing loss and suffered a major head injury in a 2001 motorcycle accident, sometimes fished for words and had to have questions repeated on many occasions.

Brendan Sullivan asked Allen about statements he made in an FBI interview that if he had given Stevens an invoice, he would have paid it.