Tuesday, July 31, 2007

FBI Searches Sen. Stevens' Alaska Home


By DAN JOLING

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Federal agents with cameras searched the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens amid questions about an oil company official's involvement in a 2000 renovation project that doubled the home's size, law enforcement officials said.

Stevens, 83, is under a federal investigation for his connections to Bill Allen, founder of VECO Corp., an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

Allen was convicted earlier this year of bribing state lawmakers. He also oversaw the renovation of Stevens' home in the ski resort community of Girdwood, contractors involved in the work say.

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, climbing onto the roof at one point. They later carried out a garbage bag full of unidentifiable materials and loaded it into a van. The curtains were drawn during most of the search.

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 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."

(AP) A federal agent takes photos at the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska's home Monday, July 30,...
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Located 40 miles south of Anchorage, Girdwood is nestled in a valley next to Mount Alyeska and has evolved from a gold mining town into Alaska's only year-round resort community.

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.

Stevens has served since 1968 and is Alaska's most powerful elected official, responsible for bringing billions in federal dollars to 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 only 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.

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