Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ted Stevens Turned Down a Deal for a Felony Conviction with a Guarantee of No Prison Time


As first reported by the Legal Times, Ted Stevens rejected a pre-indictment offer to plead guilty to a felony and receive no time in prison.

This news comes from a recently released transcript of a bench conference, a private conversation among the lawyers and the judge that occurs at the front of the courtroom.

Following Stevens’ rejection of the offer, he was indicted and tried on seven felony counts. A jury returned guilty verdicts on all seven counts, but the judge ultimately set aside the verdicts and dismissed the case due to prosecutorial misconduct.

In addition to this offer regarding the sentence, it would be interesting to know if the prosecution also tried to bargain with Stevens over the charges. Both types of bargaining—over the sentence and over the charges—are common in criminal cases.

The trial contained numerous hints that the prosecution had explored more serious charges that would have included more explicit allegations that VECO had bribed the Senator. Ultimately, the government did not charge Stevens with any crime that included any version of bribery. Instead, the indictment charged Stevens with failing to disclose gifts and liabilities on the annual financial disclosure forms he was required to file with the Senate.

Most of the undisclosed things of value at issue in the trial came from VECO--the Alaska-based oil-services giant--and/or its longtime CEO Bill Allen. The prosecution confined itself to showing favors Stevens had done for the company and favors VECO had done for Stevens without making the jury decide whether there was an explicit quid pro quo.

The things the government showed VECO and Allen provided Stevens included substantial renovations on his chalet in Girdwood as well as numerous other items such as furniture and lighting.

In terms of what Stevens provided VECO, the government presented evidence that the Senator:
  • leveraged the government of Pakistan to allow the payment of a dividend to VECO on an investment the company had made in a pipeline in that country;
  • assisted on VECO's rebidding for a National Science Foundation contract; and
  • helped with VECO's efforts to get the Alaska legislature to adopt petroleum taxes set to the liking of the Big Three oil producers, Allen's main clients in Alaska.

Stevens’ lawyers argued that in each of these matters the Senator was either just helping an Alaska company as he often did or merely pushing policies he agreed with on the merits.

Maybe we will learn more later about the discussions/negotiations between the federal prosecutors and Ted Stevens' attorneys--as well as the internal discussions within the Department of Justice--that occurred before the government announced his indictment last July.

1 comment:

ToxicTom said...

Is Ted Stevens being investigated for any other shenanigans? The earmarks for the Alaska Seafood Marketing group that Ben Stevens doled out to companies he "consulted" for and the Trevor McCabe property deal in Seward come to mind.