Sullivan said Stevens and his wife, Catherine, paid all of the roughly $160,000 in bills they received for the renovation of their home in Girdwood, Alaska.
"Ted Stevens had no intent to violate the law," Sullivan said in his opening argument for Stevens' defense. Stevens has been charged with filing filing false financial disclosure reports from 1999 to 2006, allegedly not reporting more than $250,000 in gifts from Bill Allen, former CEO of VECO Corp., an oil field services company. Most of the Justice Department allegations surround the remodeling the Girdwood home.
"Where all of sudden in the 75th year of his life, did he want to go out and become a criminal?" Sullivan said, making a reference to Stevens long career in public life.
Sullivan said Stevens and his wife closed a trust fund worth roughly $50,000, and then took out a $100,000 mortgage, to pay for the renovation work. According to Sullivan, Catherine Stevens handled the financial side of the renovation.
Sullivan suggested Allen, who oversaw the home project, did not submit some bills from the renovation to the Stevens. Sullivan said the couple relied on Allen for guidance since they spent most of their time in Washington, D.C., which Sullivan noted is "3,300 miles from Alaska."
"[Allen] was a pillar of the community, and a worthy friend, as much as Ted Stevens knew," Sullivan charged. Allen, the government's star witness, has pleaded guilty to bribing several Alaska legislators and is still awaiting sentencing.
DOJ lawyers charge that a large portion of the work on the home was actually done by VECO employees, as well as a contractor specializing in residential work.
"Ted Stevens never, ever met the contractor who did the work on the house ... until a couple of years later after the work was done," Sullivan said. "He wanted to do the project correctly, he wanted to do it honestly."
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