Thursday, September 25, 2008

Prosecutor Brenda Morris Hints At "Smoking Gun" Tape During Opening Argument In Ted Stevens Trial In Washington D.C.

Click HERE to review all posts on the Ted Stevens indictment. The most recent post will appear first.

During opening arguments by both the prosecution and the defense on September 25th, 2008 in the trial of Alaska U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, the lead prosecutor, Brenda Morris, revealed the existence of what must be characterized at this point as a "smoking gun". Full story published by the Anchorage Daily News; additional reports from KTUU Channel 2, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Fox News Channel.

Morris attempted to portray Senator Stevens as having used one of Alaska's biggest employers, then known as Veco Corporation, as his "own personal handyman service", without paying them for hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of renovations on his Girdwood cabin. Morris said witnesses will describe how even though Stevens paid subcontractors with whom he didn't have a personal relationship, he never paid Veco for its work, thanks to his close connections to the company's founder. A tentative list of all witnesses to testify on the trial can be found on Alaska Dispatch.

Brenda Morris then dropped the bomb. She said that jurors also will hear about a 2006 conversation between Stevens and Allen, who already was cooperating with federal authorities at that point. In the conversation, Stevens told Allen that the worst that could happen to the two was if anyone found what the company had done for him was that they'd have to spend a lot of money on lawyers - and perhaps serve a little jail time.

[Oh, shit!. This, on the surface, implies culpability. Guilty knowledge. Why would Ted Stevens even mention the possibility of jail if he didn't know what was being done in his name on his Girdwood cabin? This does not mean the Feds haven't deliberately engaged in charge-stacking to try to induce Stevens to make a deal, but it means I must consider it more than just another Federal witch hunt. There may well be fire behind this smoke.]

Meanwhile, during defense arguments, Stevens' lawyers countered that he was not guilty and blamed Veco and its chief executive officer, Bill Allen, for allowing costs to escalate without telling Stevens what the expenses would be or even showing him all the bills. Allen also installed fancy add-ons - like a Viking gas grill and gaudy but pricey Christmas lights - that were unnecessary and unwanted, Stevens lawyer Brendan Sullivan said. Sullivan even claimed that Stevens asked Veco to take some of the more expensive goodies back.

In addition, Brendan Sullivan also hinted that jurors would hear uncomfortable and intrusive details about the relationship between the 84-year-old Stevens and his second wife, Catherine Stevens, whom Sullivan said opened the bank account they established to pay for home renovations expenses. He portrayed Catherine as the financial wizard.

But defense lawyers did not address the issue of the tape during their opening arguments, nor did they attempt to portray the prosecution statements about the tape as being "out of context". This omission could prove telling.

At the end, Brenda Morris effectively summed it up as "a simple case about a public official who took hundreds and thousands of dollars' worth of free financial benefits, and then took away the public's right to know that information".

Stevens, the longest-serving Republican U.S. senator, is accused of accepting more than $250,000 in home repairs, labor and furnishings from what was then known as Veco and its CEO, Bill Allen. He faces seven felony counts of making false statements on his Senate financial-disclosure forms. Allen has already pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers in Alaska and is currently being used to testify against others. The 29-page indictment can be viewed HERE.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan cautioned jurors that what the lawyers said Thursday morning is merely a road map of the case, not evidence. He reminded the jurors that the law doesn't require the defendant to prove his innocence or present any evidence. In addition, he admonished jurors to rely only on the facts in the case and not judge Stevens based on his race, religion, national origin or age.


  1. It also sounds like Stevens was also putting some of the blame on his wife. This man is a crook and he has been doing this for some time now, he finally got caught.

  2. Anonymous - I also noticed that, and I'm waiting to see how this plays out. I hope he doesn't intend to throw his wife under the bus to save himself.

    The reported audio tape is quite damning. It's difficult to accept the possibility that a man with such a record of service to Alaska could conceive to lower himself to such tawdry behavior.

    But if he's convicted, I will have NO qualms about transferring my support to Bob Bird straightaway.

  3. Just look up on the internet the biography of Brenda Morris and you would understand what motivates her.

  4. Nope, just smoke. Look at the whole telephone call's transcript. Stevens is just trying to commiserate with Allen and "be there" for an old friend. Some news outlets recognized this, even if most prefer demogogic denunciations.

  5. Thank you Brenda Morris and fellow Prosecutors.

    Not an easy case.

  6. Looks like Brenda Morris will be lucky to stay out of jail. Just what we need - more activist lawyers trying to make a name for themselves so they can cash in hugely like Elliot Spitzker did. When do the groundless prosecutions end? Maybe a little time in prison for her and William Welch will scare off the next over-the-top meritless prosecution. Will be doing some research into her politics, the entire case seems very fishy.