FBI searches Stevens' home

Federal agents focus on records related to jailed contractor

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Federal agents searched the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens on Monday, focusing on records related to his relationship with an oil field services contractor jailed in a public corruption investigation, a law enforcement official said.

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Stevens, 83, has been under a federal investigation for a 2000 renovation project more than doubling the size of his home in Girdwood that was overseen by Bill Allen, a contractor who has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators.

Allen is founder of VECO Corp., an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

Agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service started their search at the senator's home Monday afternoon, said Dave Heller, FBI assistant special agent. He said he could not comment on the nature of the investigation.

About 15 agents took photos and video of various angles of the house, including shots from the roof, and eventually entered it.

A law enforcement official familiar with the case confirmed the raid on Stevens' home was focused on records related to the ongoing VECO investigation. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

An e-mail statement issued by Stevens through his Washington, D.C., spokesman said federal agents had alerted his attorneys that they wanted to search his home.

Stevens, who has been in office since 1968 and is the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, said the interests of justice would be best served if he commented after the investigation.

"I continue to believe this investigation should proceed to its conclusion without any appearance that I have attempted to influence its outcome," Stevens said. "The legal process should be allowed to proceed so that all the facts can be established and the truth determined."

The Justice Department's probe into Allen's relationships has led to charges against state lawmakers and contractors. Last year, FBI raids on the offices of several Alaska lawmakers included Stevens' son, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens.

Neither the U.S. senator nor his son has been charged.

Heather Szundy, 30, who lives across the street from Stevens' home and describes herself as a part-time resident, applauded the investigation.

"It's good," she said. "Cracking down keeps people honest. The government needs it."

Stevens has served since 1968 and is Alaska's most powerful elected official, responsible for bringing home billions in federal dollars in a state that lacks infrastructure, from road money to basic sewer and water systems in remote villages. Anchorage's international airport is named for Stevens and he has faced token opposition in recent elections.

Alaska's only U.S. representative, Don Young, also is under federal investigation as part of an on-going corruption probe, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press last week, commenting only on condition of anonymity. Part of the Young investigation involves his campaign finance practices, the law enforcement official said.

The investigation was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Former VECO Corp. CEO Allen held fundraisers called "the Pig Roast" for Young every August for 10 years. Public records show Young received $157,000 from VECO's employees and its political action committee between 1996 and 2006, the Journal reported.

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