Ward tied to scheme to avoid prosecution

STEVENS TRIAL: Filing describes ex-senator who persuaded witness to lie.

December 16, 2008 

Former state Sen. Jerry Ward convinced a key witness in the Ted Stevens trial to invent and then lie about a broad immunity deal because Ward was trying to protect himself from federal prosecution, the Justice Department said in a new court filing Monday.

Ward, though not directly identified in a series of documents filed electronically after hours in Washington, D.C., was unmistakably described by Justice officials as the instigator who sought protection through witness Dave Anderson.

The Justice Department said in the documents it had an active investigation of Ward growing out of his relationship with private prison advocate William Weimar, who pleaded guilty last summer to making illegal payments to benefit Ward’s Senate campaign in 2004.

The filings Monday — a pleading to the trial judge in the Stevens case, affidavits by prosecutors and the FBI counsel in Alaska, and investigative reports by FBI agents — were in response to a demand by Stevens’ lawyers that Anderson and agents be examined under oath in an evidentiary hearing about Anderson’s trial testimony.

Stevens says the hearing could uncover evidence that prosecutors engaged in misconduct with Anderson and result in a new trial for Stevens, or dismissal of charges altogether.

But the government said there was no need for even an evidentiary hearing because the facts in their filing Monday demonstrate Anderson told the truth at the trial — that he had no immunity deal for himself or anyone else.

Anderson testified Oct. 9 as the prosecution’s final witness in its case against Stevens. Anderson did extensive work on Stevens’ home in Girdwood while on the payroll of the defunct oil-field service company Veco Corp. Stevens was convicted on all seven counts of failing to disclose gifts from Veco, its chief executive Bill Allen and others.

But last month, in letters to the judge, defense and prosecution, Anderson said he lied in his testimony, in particular his repudiation from the witness stand of a sworn statement he signed in March. That March statement said his cooperation with the government was based on a pledge of immunity for Ward and 12 other relatives of Ward and Anderson.

The tangle of characters associated with Veco and Allen gets to its most complicated snarl in the Anderson-Ward matter.

Allen once dated Kirsten Deacon. Deacon is Ward’s daughter. Anderson is Allen’s nephew, the son of Allen’s sister. Anderson now lives with Deacon. Their home is on Ward family property in the Mat-Su Borough.

Allen and Anderson have such animosity toward each other that a defense attorney in another corruption case asked Allen whether he wanted to have Anderson killed. Allen said no — he just wanted to beat him. Anderson’s March affidavit purports to be an effort by Anderson to speak from the grave.

“It has come to my attention that I may not be available to confirm this prearranged agreement of immunity for the above listed people on information given to me by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others that a contract to murder me has been discovered,” he wrote. “In the event of my murder I have issued this sworn statement to clarify my arrangements with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Anderson, in his letter to the judge and attorneys, said Allen and his son Mark — Anderson’s cousin — had taken out the contract on his life.

“The government has given both of them immunity for crimes they have committed and they refuse to honor their agreement with me,” Anderson said.

But the government, in its filings Monday, said Anderson’s efforts were all about Ward. In some documents, Ward is identified as “Family Member A.” In others, his name is blacked out. But the context shows unmistakably that Family Member A or the blacked-out name is Ward.

The government said there was no immunity deal for Anderson, Ward or anyone else in the March affidavit. An investigation shows that Ward and Deacon actually sent Anderson’s letter from Anchorage in November and that Ward was actively meddling in an effort to save himself from prosecution.

“Anderson’s allegations are factually incorrect, fraudulently presented, and designed to help exculpate from criminal prosecution an individual wholly unrelated to the Stevens trial,” the government said, referring to Ward.

Prosecutors said that Ward “substantially” prepared the March affidavit about two weeks after learning “that he was being investigated by the FBI for public corruption offenses.” The government said an unidentified state investigation in 2004 had uncovered evidence that Ward “was in a conspiracy to violate federal law.” Weimar was described as another member of the conspiracy.

On March 16, 2008, Anderson told an FBI agent over the phone that Ward was growing extremely anxious about the possibility of indictment. Anderson “is concerned because [Ward] has diabetes and has not slept in the past three nights,” the agent’s notes said.

Anderson said he had suggested to Ward that he cooperate with the FBI.

In another interview two days later, the agent said Anderson reported Ward “wants immunity so he can sleep at night.”

In multiple contacts with the FBI in that period, Anderson never asserted he or anyone else had immunity, the government said.

The FBI didn’t learn about the immunity affidavit until Weimar pleaded guilty Aug. 12, 2008. His plea described the conspiracy to funnel money to Ward’s campaign.

The next day, the FBI was contacted by Ward’s attorney, who asserted Ward and the other family members had been protected by Anderson for crimes committed over a 10-year period. The attorney faxed the March document to the FBI.

Two agents immediate drove to Anderson’s home. He told them the affidavit was inaccurate, the government said. Of the 13 people listed on it, only one was the subject of an active investigation, the government said.

The matter heated up again after Stevens’ trial as a result of Anderson’s testimony repudiating the affidavit, the government said.

Anderson helped arrange a meeting with prosecutors, Ward and Ward’s attorney on Nov. 14. The meeting lasted all of five minutes when Ward’s attorney indicated he was only interested in hearing the evidence against Ward, not in providing information to the government, the pleading said. As a parting shot, the government told Ward of his target status “in the federal criminal investigation.”

The next day, Anderson sent his letters to the FBI, the defense and the judge. A surveillance camera at the Kinkos at Northern Lights Bouldvard and Lake Otis Parkway in Anchorage showed that Ward and his daughter faxed the documents, with Anderson standing nearby, the government said.

Find Richard Mauer online at adn.com/contact/rmauer or call 257-4345.

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