Prosecutors say witness lied to protect Jerry Ward

Authorities: Ex-lawmaker persuaded man to lie about immunity deal

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Former state Sen. Jerry Ward persuaded a witness in the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens to invent a story about an immunity deal and then lie about it to protect Ward from prosecution, according to federal authorities.

Ward was not directly identified in documents filed electronically Monday in Washington, D.C. However, Ward is the only former official who fits the description as the instigator who sought protection through witness Dave Anderson.

Justice Department officials said in the documents that they had an active investigation of Ward growing out of his relationship with private prison advocate William Weimar.

Weimar, now of Montana, pleaded guilty Aug. 12 to paying money to a consultant for Ward's state Senate campaign in 2004.

The filings Monday included a pleading to the trial judge in the Stevens case, affidavits by prosecutors and the FBI counsel in Alaska, and investigative reports by FBI agents.

They were filed in response to a demand by Stevens' lawyers that Anderson and agents be examined under oath in an evidentiary hearing about Anderson's trial testimony.

Stevens says the hearing could uncover evidence that prosecutors engaged in misconduct with Anderson. Stevens is hoping for a dismissal of charges or a new trial.

Justice Department officials contend that Anderson told the truth at the trial and he had no immunity deal for himself or anyone else.

Anderson testified Oct. 9 as the prosecution's final witness in its case against Stevens. Anderson did extensive work on Stevens' home in Girdwood while on the payroll of VECO Corp., a now-defunct oil field services company. Stevens was convicted on seven counts of failing to disclose gifts from VECO, its chief executive Bill Allen and others.

Anderson in a letter last month said he lied in his testimony.

He said he had lied by repudiating a sworn statement he signed in March.

That March statement said his cooperation with the government was based on a pledge of immunity for Ward and 12 other relatives of Ward and Anderson.

The relationship between Anderson and Ward is complicated.

Allen once dated Kirsten Deacon, Ward's daughter.

Anderson is Allen's nephew. Anderson now lives with Deacon, and their home is on Ward family property in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Anderson's statement from March purports to be an effort to speak from the grave if he was harmed by Allen.

"It has come to my attention that I may not be available to confirm this prearranged agreement of immunity for the above listed people on information given to me by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others that a contract to murder me has been discovered," he wrote. "In the event of my murder I have issued this sworn statement to clarify my arrangements with the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Anderson, in his letter to the judge and attorneys, said Bill Allen and his son, Mark, had taken out the contract on his life.

"The government has given both of them immunity for crimes they have committed and they refuse to honor their agreement with me," Anderson said.

In its filings Monday, Justice Department officials said Anderson's efforts were all about Ward.

In some documents, Ward is identified as "Family Member A." In others, his name is blacked out.

The government said there was no immunity deal for Anderson, Ward or anyone else in the March affidavit.

According to investigators, Ward and Deacon sent Anderson's letter from Anchorage in November to save Ward from prosecution.

"Anderson's allegations are factually incorrect, fraudulently presented, and designed to help exculpate from criminal prosecution an individual wholly unrelated to the Stevens trial," the government said, referring to Ward.

Prosecutors said it was Ward who "substantially" prepared the March affidavit about two weeks after learning that Ward himself was being investigated by the FBI. The government said an unidentified state investigation in 2004 had uncovered evidence that Ward "was in a conspiracy to violate federal law." Weimar was described as another member of the conspiracy.

On March 16, Anderson told an FBI agent over the phone that Ward was growing extremely anxious about the possibility of indictment. Anderson "is concerned because (Ward) has diabetes and has not slept in the past three nights," the agent's notes said.

Anderson said he had suggested to Ward that he cooperate with the FBI.

In another interview two days later, the agent said Anderson reported Ward "wants immunity so he can sleep at night."

In multiple contacts with the FBI in that period, Anderson never asserted he or anyone else had immunity, the government said.

The FBI didn't learn about the immunity affidavit until Weimar pleaded guilty on Aug. 12. His plea described the conspiracy to funnel money to Ward's campaign.

The next day, the FBI was contacted by Ward's attorney, who asserted Ward and the other family members had been protected by Anderson for crimes committed over a 10-year period. The attorney faxed the March document to the FBI.

Two agents drove to Anderson's home. He told them the affidavit was inaccurate, the government said. Of the 13 people listed on it, only one was the subject of an active investigation, the government said.

The matter heated up again after Stevens' trial as a result of Anderson's testimony repudiating the affidavit, the government said.

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