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Kai Ryssdal: The longest serving Republican member of the United States Senate, Alaska’s Ted Stevens, was indicted by a federal grand jury today.
The indictment’s part of a wide ranging bribery investigation into VECO — that’s a privately held oil services company — and its CEO Bill Allen.
From Washington, Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports.
Steve Henn: Senator Stevens is accused of hiding a quarter of a million dollars in gifts he received from an Alaskan oil industry executive.
Matthew Freidrich at the Justice Department said Bill Allen, former CEO of Veco, had employees do hundreds of thousands of dollars of work on Stevens’ house at an Alaskan ski resort.
Matthew Freidrich: Veco and its employees and contractors provided architectural designs for the renovation, assisted in lifting up the residence and installing a new first floor, installed electrical, plumbing, framing, heating and flooring materials…
Not to mention the wraparound deck — and all for free. Allen also allegedly gave Stevens a professional Viking gas grill and traded a new Land Rover for an old Ford Mustang. At the same time, Stevens allegedly helped Allen land federal grants and funding for international business deals.
Stevens’ office had no immediate comment, but he isn’t accused of accepting bribes. Instead, he will stand trial only for not listing the gifts on his personal financial disclosure forms.
Stan Brand is a Washington ethics attorney.
Stan Brand: It’s a lot easier to prove false statements than it is to prove a bribe because the level of proof required of a bribe, you would have to show evidence that he intended to take these gifts in connection with some official duty.
But to win this case, federal prosecutors just have to prove Stevens knowingly took these gifts without reporting them.
In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.
Ryssdal: Just as we were going to air, Senator Stevens did release a statement. He says he is innocent of the charges in the indictment today and he intends to prove it.
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