Prosecutors seek prison time for Allen

Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Federal prosecutors say the former chief executive of a company that did construction work for oil companies should be sentenced to nearly four years in prison for offering bribes in exchange for legislation favorable to the petroleum industry.

The government's recommendation was filed late Wednesday, a week before Bill Allen, 72, and another VECO executive are scheduled to be sentenced for their 2007 guilty pleas to conspiracy, bribery and tax charges.

Judge John W. Sedwick on Thursday morning denied Allen's request to postpone sentencing until February, saying in his order: "It's time to turn Allen's page in the lamentable chapter of Alaska's history."

"The actions of Bill Allen were corrupt, sustained, and damaging to the integrity of the legislative process," prosecutors said in the filing obtained by the Anchorage Daily News.

In a separate filing, prosecutors recommended a 3 ½-year prison sentence for Rick Smith, 64, a former vice president of VECO, an Anchorage-based company that performed maintenance, construction and design work for oil companies.

Lawyers for Allen and Smith have asked for much lighter prison sentences, pointing out the pair worked extensively with the FBI and prosecutors, testifying at trials and giving detailed evidence in multiple debriefings about their illegal activities. They also recorded phone calls at the government's request to elicit admissions from politicians.

The sentencing recommendations were accompanied by documents filed by prosecutors and defense attorneys. Some of the paperwork involved U.S. Rep. Don Young, who has been known for more than two years to be under investigation by federal authorities.

Allen and Smith admitted breaking federal campaign finance laws on Young's behalf, using corporate funds to pay the expenses of a yearly fundraiser from 1993 to 2006. The illegal corporate donations were not reported.

The total spent by VECO over the years was between $130,000 and $195,000.

Young has denied wrongdoing. His campaign has spent more than $1 million on his legal expenses.

Allen was the lead witness in the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Allen and Smith testified during the trials of former House speaker Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, and former Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla.

Charges against Stevens were tossed when the Justice Department admitted it failed to turn over evidence favorable to the defense prior to trial. The same issue has led to the release of Kott and Kohring from prison while a judge decides whether to dismiss charges or order new trials.

Prosecutors said their sentencing recommendations don't take into consideration anything involving Young or Stevens, only the state legislators mentioned in Allen's 2007 charging document.

"The defendant was the pivotal figure in a conspiracy that lasted from 2002 to 2006, which included a series of corrupt acts that were designed to, and did, influence the Alaska legislature," prosecutors said.

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