Sen. Olson testifies before grand jury

Posted: Friday, June 06, 2008

ANCHORAGE - An Alaska state senator whose offices were raided by federal authorities nearly two years ago testified before a federal grand jury, his lawyer said.

State Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, testified Wednesday, attorney Paul Stockler told the Anchorage Daily News.

Olson's offices were searched in the early stages of a federal political corruption investigation that has sent several state lawmakers to prison.

Olson was subpoenaed to appear and cooperated, Stockler told the Daily News. Stockler said they've been directed by prosecutors not to say more.

There is no indication that Olson is a target of the grand jury, Stockler said.

"We've been cooperating for some time and we have a written agreement with the government," the lawyer said.

Olson is one of six state legislators whose offices were searched by FBI agents in August 2006. The others are Republicans.

Stockler said he could not say whether Olson's testimony relates to that investigation, which has explored ties between executives of the oil field services company VECO Corp. and Alaska politicians.

Already from the federal probe, former House Speaker Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, and former Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, have been convicted of federal corruption charges. The trial for former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, has been delayed.

Former VECO CEO Bill Allen and Rick Smith, a company vice president, have pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska lawmakers. Their sentencing dates have been postponed as they continue to cooperate with the federal investigation.

The offices of state Sen. John Cowdery and former Senate President Ben Stevens also were searched. Neither has been charged.

Both Olson and Cowdery, 78, missed Wednesday's opening of the legislative special session in Juneau. Cowdery's wife, Juanita, said he will check into a hospital for surgery but declined to elaborate.

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