Government prosecutors are expected to call at least two former VECO Corporation employees Thursday to kick off the public corruption trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. Stevens has longstanding ties to VECO, the former Alaska-based oil services company whose ex-CEO, Bill Allen, was convicted in a bribery scandal involving Alaska state lawmakers. Allen is considered the government’s chief witness.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan seated 11 women and five men today as the jury—including alternates—that will hear the case against Stevens, accused of filing false or misleading financial disclosure forms to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations he allegedly received from VECO employees. The 12 jurors and four alternates bring a spectrum of professional backgrounds to the table—including finance, retail sales, and secretarial work. Several panel members are former jurors.
Judge Sullivan has allotted the opposing sides an hour each for opening statements, which are set for 9:30 a.m. in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Williams & Connolly senior partner Brendan Sullivan Jr. is lead defense counsel. The Justice Department’s Brenda Morris, the principal deputy chief in the Public Integrity Section, heads up the prosecution.
Stevens, 84, has waived his presence to be at the trial. But his lawyers are forbidden to give any explanation about why Stevens may not be in court at a particular time—for instance, if he’s at the Capitol for legislative duties. Judge Sullivan plans to instruct jurors that they should not infer anything negative from Stevens not being present in court. Stevens is up for re-election in November and requested speedy trial to resolve the case before voters cast ballots.