Ex-VECO executive says he believed he was blackmailed

Allen's accusation centers around Sen. Stevens' home remodeling

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ANCHORAGE - The former head of a major Alaska oil field services company testified Monday that he thought he was being blackmailed by a family member over remodeling services he provided to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

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Bill Allen, former CEO of VECO Corp., said he believed he was being blackmailed by his nephew, Dave Anderson, after Allen sent VECO employees to remodel the Alaska home of Stevens, the longest serving Republican in U.S. Senate history.

Details about Allen's accusation were not discussed in court, and Allen's attorney, Robert Bundy, said he could not elaborate.

Anderson has not been charged with blackmail.

Allen testified in the corruption trial of former state Rep. Vic Kohring, who is accused of demanding and accepting at least $2,600 from VECO officials in exchange for his support on legislation.

Allen's testimony came during questioning from John Henry Browne, Kohring's attorney. Allen acknowledged that VECO employees had spent a "lot of time" at the home of Stevens but said he did not know all the details.

"It was booked but I don't know how much it was," he said.

Under follow-up questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Bottini, Allen said he was upset by Anderson.

"I was pretty mad," he said.

Bottini asked if he had made statements that he wanted to kill Anderson. Allen said he didn't think so.

"I wouldn't have done that because his mother is my sister," he said.

Federal prosecutors have acknowledged they are investigating Stevens. Stevens has said while the contracting bills were first sent to VECO for accuracy checks, he paid all bills on the home that he received.

Prosecutors also contend Kohring solicited a job from VECO for a relative and that Kohring sought $17,000 to pay off a credit card debt. Kohring, who resigned from the Alaska Legislature in July, is charged with four felonies.

Allen testified in September in the corruption trial of another Alaska lawmaker, former state Rep. Pete Kott, who was convicted of conspiracy to solicit financial benefits, extortion and bribery.

Allen acknowledged in the earlier trial that he had company employees work several months on a remodeling project at Stevens' home.

Allen in September said one to four employees may have been at the home in Girdwood for as long as six months. The remodeling work in summer and fall 2000 more than doubled the size of the house, a four-bedroom structure that is Stevens' official residence in Alaska.

Allen in May pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators but no federal elected officials.

The federal government investigation of corruption in Alaska politics included wiretaps placed on the phones of Allen and Rick Smith, a VECO vice president, in late 2005 and throughout the regular and special legislative sessions in 2006. The FBI also bugged a Juneau hotel suite used as a meeting room by VECO.

Allen and Smith have testified that they curried favor with legislators, including Kohring and Kott, because they badly wanted the Alaska Legislature in 2006 to approve new oil tax legislation.

The measure, promoted as a way to provide a stable tax climate in Alaska, was sought by major petroleum producers before they would consider building a multibillion dollar natural gas pipeline tapping vast reserves on the state's North Slope.

VECO would have been in line to bid on lucrative construction and maintenance contracts if that project had been built.

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