WASHINGTON – In secretly recorded telephone conversations played in court Monday, an occasionally profane Sen. Ted Stevens denied wrongdoing and cursed at the federal agents who were raiding homes and offices in Alaska as part of a sweeping corruption probe.
“I don’t know what … these guys are doing; we’ll have to figure that out later,” Stevens said to Bill Allen, chief executive of the oil services firm Veco Corp.
But Stevens also offered up advice on maintaining a good attitude in the face of the investigation to Allen, the man who – unbeknownst to Stevens – had agreed to testify against the senator in exchange for leniency in his own sentencing and the promise prosecutors wouldn’t target his children.
They needed to maintain the attitude that “these guys can’t really hurt us,” Stevens said to Allen.
“They’re not going to shoot us. It’s not Iraq, so what the hell,” Stevens said. “The worst that can happen to us is we wind up with a bunch of legal fees and might lose, and we might have to pay a little fine, might have to serve a little time in jail. I hope to Christ it never gets to that, and I don’t think it will.”
“I’m developing the attitude that I don’t think I did anything wrong so I’m going to go right through my life and keep doing what I think is right,” the senator said.
Two years after that conversation, Stevens, now 84 and up for re-election, is on trial for taking more than $250,000 in gifts – chiefly from Veco – and lying about them on his U.S. Senate financial disclosure forms.
The first of the three recordings played Monday in court as part of Allen’s testimony was made Aug. 31, 2006. That was one day after the FBI searched Allen’s home and office and he agreed to cooperate with investigators in the Alaska corruption investigation. In 2007, Allen pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers.