IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Judge refuses to end Stevens trial

Image: Ted Stevens
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska,and his daughter Beth Stevens arrive at U.S. District Court in Washington on Tuesday. Jose Luis Magana / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal judge refused to declare a mistrial in the corruption case against Sen. Ted Stevens.

Shortly after the government concluded its case Wednesday against the veteran Alaska lawmaker, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan heard defense attorneys argue again that prosecutors violated rules of evidence by intentionally withholding information that would help the defense.

Prosecutors insisted they had followed the rules.

Prosecutors have accused Stevens of lying on Senate forms to conceal that he received more than $250,000 in home renovations and gifts from a wealthy businessman.

The defense says former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, would be among its first witnesses if the trial continues Thursday.

Stevens, 84, is accused of lying on Senate forms to conceal more than $250,000 in renovations on his cabin and other gifts from Bill Allen, the former chief of a giant oil pipeline company, VECO Corp. Prosecutors called an FBI agent as their last witness Wednesday to introduce e-mails about the home improvements.

In e-mails from 2000 and 2001, a neighbor gave Stevens regular progress reports on a project that turned a modest backwoods A-frame into a two-story home with a new roof, hardwood floors, wraparound decks, a sauna and a garage.

"We look forward to seeing the house," Stevens wrote back, referring to his wife, Catherine. "I guess we can't call it a chalet anymore."

The neighbor, Bob Persons, credited an employee of VECO Corp. with doing the bulk of the work, and the senator occasionally asked for invoices.

"Don't forget, we need a bill," he e-mailed Allen at one point.

Prosecutors also introduced financial disclosure forms from the same period that required Stevens to report gifts to himself or immediate family. The senator listed items like a gold coin worth $1,100 and a sled dog valued at $250 but didn't mention VECO or the cabin project.

Allen, who's cooperating under a plea deal, testified that he couldn't bring himself to charge his close friend for the costs, and that the senator never paid him. The jury heard secretly recorded phone conversations in which the pair discussed how to fend off the FBI.

The corruption investigation has rattled Alaska politics, turning prominent state lawmakers into convicted felons and making Stevens vulnerable to a Democratic challenge for his Senate seat in the Nov. 4 election.