Ben Stevens ID'd as Senator A

COURT FILINGS: Ex-legislator had only been named in news reports.

August 30, 2007 

In a court ruling this week, a federal judge identified former state Senate President Ben Stevens as an alleged co-conspirator in a bribery scheme involving legislators and oil field services contractor Veco Corp.

Though news reports named him months ago, it was the first time Stevens has been so named in a court document.

The development was just one of the intriguing pieces of information popping up in court filings as the public corruption trial of former Reps. Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch approaches. It's set to begin Sept. 5.

"The evidence which the United States will present at trial will show that state Senator A is, in fact, Ben Stevens," U.S. District Judge John Sedwick wrote.

The indictment against Kott and Weyhrauch says Senator A conspired with them and two Veco executives to benefit the company.

In particular, the document describes a June 5, 2006, telephone conversation between the senator and former Veco chief executive Bill Allen. In the phone call, the two agreed that Weyhrauch came to support oil tax legislation favored by Veco because Allen had promised him legal work for the company. Weyhrauch is a lawyer.

Stevens worked as a Veco consultant for years, making $243,250 from 2002 through 2006 while he was a state senator.

John Wolfe, a Seattle lawyer who represents Stevens, said he was disappointed the judge named Stevens publicly without giving his client a chance to object. Stevens hasn't been charged in the ongoing corruption investigations.

"We're concerned about the impact that this will have on Mr. Stevens' ability to get a fair trial" -- should he be indicted, Wolfe said.

At any rate, Stevens maintains he's done nothing wrong, Wolfe said.

In other developments:

• Prosecutors won't be able to tell jurors that Weyhrauch allegedly cheated on his legislative per diem allowance. They wanted to include such evidence as "prior bad acts."

Sedwick ruled Tuesday that even if Weyhrauch was chiseling on his per diem claims, that's a lot different than being accused of selling his legislative office. But it's just the kind of behavior that outrages voters. Jurors may unfairly leap to the conclusion that a legislator who cheated on his legislative allowance is guilty of everything else, too, the judge said.

• Efforts by Kott's lawyer to dismiss various charges were struck down by Sedwick. Attorney Jim Wendt attempted to file legal pleadings past the deadline, but the judge said no. Even if the pleadings were on time, they lacked merit, he ruled.

Meanwhile, some trial issues will be sorted out at a hearing this morning before Sedwick.


Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.

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