October 24, 2009 in Nation/World

Alaska probe implicates longtime congressman

Witness admits giving Young thousands of dollars
Kim Murphy Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, left, greets people at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Thursday in Anchorage, Alaska.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE – In documents filed this week in Alaska’s long-running political corruption investigation, the government’s lead witness said he had given thousands of dollars in gifts to “United States Representative A” – who could only be Republican Rep. Don Young.

Bill Allen, a former oil services company executive, said he paid $10,000 to $15,000 a year between 1993 and 2006 out of VECO Corp.’s funds for Young’s annual fundraiser in Alaska. The lawmaker, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, did not list any such payments on his financial disclosure forms.

In a statement of stipulated facts that included a “confession of additional criminal activity,” Allen said his co-defendant in the case, former VECO Vice President Rick Smith, had purchased a $1,000 set of golf clubs with Allen’s credit card and given them to Young.

Testimony and evidence provided by Allen, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday, has helped convict several Alaska state legislators and former Gov. Frank Murkowski’s chief of staff on corruption charges stemming from influence VECO wielded over pending legislation on oil taxes and other matters affecting the industry.

His testimony also helped lead to the conviction of powerful Republican Sen. Ted Stevens on unreported gift-giving charges. Stevens’ conviction was reversed in April after the Justice Department admitted serious prosecutorial misconduct. But by that time the veteran senator already had lost his bid for re-election.

Young, 76, has never been directly identified by federal officials as a target of the probe, and he consistently has refused to publicly answer questions about it.

On Friday, Young – Alaska’s only member of the U.S. House of Representatives – waved off a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, which initially reported the new court filing. “Don’t bother me,” he said.

Since 2006, Allen has provided prosecutors with exhaustive details of his dealings with Alaskan lawmakers.

He pleaded guilty to bribery in 2007, and has argued that because of his cooperation he should be sentenced to no more than six months in prison and six months in home detention, with a fine of $150,000. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of about 46 months and a $750,000 fine.

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