Stevens hires lawyers in FBI probe

Investigation linked to the VECO bribery case, officials say

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2007

WASHINGTON - Veteran Sen. Ted Stevens has hired lawyers and has been instructed by the FBI to preserve records relevant to a burgeoning federal investigation into corruption in Alaska, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

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As part of a larger probe, federal agents are investigating the remodeling of Stevens' Alaska home in 2000.

The investigation is linked to the VECO Corp. bribery case that last month produced guilty pleas from two of the oil field service company's top executives, according to law enforcement officials.

"They put me on notice to preserve some records," Stevens, 83, told the Post, declining to say what kinds of records are involved.

Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history declined comment Thursday.

"Don't waste your time. I've said what I said in an answer to a direct question, but I'm not commenting any further," Stevens told The Associated Press.

Three contractors who worked on the remodeling project at Stevens' home in Girdwood, a resort town about 40 miles south of Anchorage, have said the FBI asked them to turn over their records from the job.

One, Anchorage contractor Augie Paone, has previously said VECO executives - including former CEO Bill Allen - helped oversee the home remodeling project.

Paone testified before a federal grand jury about the work in December and has said that he would send bills on the remodeling project to VECO, where someone would examine them for accuracy before forwarding them to Stevens. Paone has said as far as he knew, Stevens paid the bills.

Allen pleaded guilty May 7 to bribery and other charges and is cooperating with investigators in the probe, which has focused on last year's negotiations for a new oil and gas tax in Alaska and a proposed natural gas pipeline that would have benefited VECO.



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