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Alaska lawmaker is linked to corruption probe

A court filing points to 'United States Representative A' as a recipient of thousands of dollars in gifts. The state has only one U.S. congressman -- Rep. Don Young.

October 24, 2009|Kim Murphy

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 from 1993 to 2006 out of VECO Corp.'s funds for the representative's annual fundraiser in Alaska. The lawmaker, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, did not list any such payments on 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 the congressman.

Testimony and evidence provided by Allen, who is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday on his 2007 guilty pleas to conspiracy, bribery and tax charges, 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 voided in April after the Justice Department admitted serious prosecutorial misconduct. By that time the veteran senator already had lost his bid for reelection.

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. His spokeswoman, Meredith Kenny, on Friday declined to comment, and Young's lawyer did not return a phone call.

On Friday, Young -- Alaska's only member of the 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, sometimes secretly recording conversations with them. He 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. "The actions of Bill Allen were corrupt, sustained and damaging to the integrity of the legislative process," the government argued in its sentencing memorandum filed this week.

The memo also stated that Allen and Smith schemed to "corruptly influence and reward two federal public officials for official action beneficial to VECO" -- a possible reference to Young and Stevens, although neither was named.

A spokesman for Allen's lawyer, Robert Bork Jr., said he could not comment on whether Allen was being asked to cooperate in an investigation against Young, saying that question should be asked of federal prosecutors.

The House last year directed the Justice Department to look into a controversial earmark Young had attached to a 2005 highway bill, steering $10 million to study building an interchange of Interstate 75 in Florida near land owned by a major campaign donor and fundraiser for Young.

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kim.murphy@latimes.com

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