Stevens witness affirms immunity offer

TRIAL: Anderson sends judge a letter saying government granted him and 12 friends a deal.

December 24, 2008 

David Anderson, the government witness at the center of the storm involving ex-state Sen. Jerry Ward and allegations of misconduct in U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' trial, has written a new letter to the judge in the Stevens case asserting again that prosecutors promised him and his friends immunity.

In his latest letter, Anderson offered a more detailed explanation about why he prepared an affidavit in March in which he listed 13 people whom he said were promised immunity by the government in exchange for his cooperation.

Ward, the father of Anderson's girlfriend, was on the list.

Prosecutors have denied they ever promised immunity to Anderson or anyone on his list. Anderson testified during the Stevens trial that the March affidavit was false.

The messy controversy, one of several that have erupted since Stevens' conviction Oct. 27 on seven felony disclosure violations, has become one of the grounds for Stevens' defense attorneys to demand dismissal of charges or a retrial. They called on U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the Stevens trial in Washington, D.C., to hold evidentiary hearings -- essentially mini-trials -- into the Anderson matter and an FBI whistle-blower complaint that surfaced Friday.

A defense attorney, Robert Cary, filed Anderson's letter in court Tuesday as an exhibit to his request for the hearing. Anderson's letter was dated Dec. 15 and follows up his first letter of a month earlier, in which he asserted his testimony refuting the March affidavit was itself false.

Both letters start the same way: "My name is David Allen Anderson."

Anderson, the estranged nephew of Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen, wrote the latest letter in response to the government's opposition to re-open the Stevens case. Prosecutors said that Ward, under scrutiny in the corruption investigation, had a hand in drafting the March affidavit and in sending the November letter. Both documents were tainted by Ward's self-interest, they asserted.

Anderson addressed that point in his latest letter. He said he dictated, then signed, the two letters and the affidavit.

"I am not a typist or an officer worker, but a welder," he said.

Anderson was one of two Veco supervisors at the renovation project that doubled the size of Stevens' Girdwood home from 2000-2001. Anderson built an outdoor staircase and part of a deck out of steel, helped move a generator installed by Veco and fixed things for Stevens when they broke -- all paid by Veco. Anderson was the last witness to testify for the prosecution.

But Anderson said in his first letter, and emphasized in the new letter, that he would not have taken the stand if he thought there was no immunity deal.

"I would like to be perfectly clear," he wrote this month. "I would have pleaded the fifth."

Anderson said he didn't sign the March affidavit to protect Ward or any of the others. He was trying to save himself from being killed by Allen and Allen's son, Mark, he said.

"It was to protect ME," he wrote.

Though 11 exhibits accompanied the government's opposition to re-open the case, none even discussed, let alone refuted, "the fact that Bill and Mark Allen had a contract to murder me," Anderson said.

He wrote the March affidavit, he said, because he was traveling to New Mexico, a haunt of Allen and his son, and feared for his safety.

"My thought process was that if it was in writing and anything happened to me, people would know where to look," Anderson said in his letter.

A copy of the affidavit, filed last month, doesn't mention either Allen by name. While it refers to a murder plot, it makes no suggestion about who to question should he be killed.

Rather, the affidavit appears to be an effort to immortalize an immunity deal for Ward and the other 12 named people if Anderson died and couldn't claim it himself.

Bill Allen has denied in testimony that he ever intended to kill Anderson. Mark Allen didn't return a call left at his ranch in Roswell, N.M.

If the judge wanted to confirm the murder plot, Anderson wrote, he should call an Anchorage reporter, Tony Hopfinger, who produces the Web site Alaska Dispatch.

"He has seen the documents under seal regarding the murder-for-hire scheme and is also aware that from day one I believed immunity was granted," Anderson said.

But in an interview Tuesday, Hopfinger said he never saw any such documents.

"I was read something that was regarding an FBI wiretap where some conversation of a kind of cryptic nature of hurting Dave, or hiring somebody to hurt Dave -- I was read that by a source," Hopfinger said. "And I asked Dave about it."

But his source was "very guarded about the material," Hopfinger said.

In a story he wrote about Anderson, Hopfinger said he originally had a paragraph saying that Allen had considered killing Anderson. That paragraph was sourced to "others who have viewed the sealed government affidavit," Hopfinger said, but he cut the paragraph from his story because he couldn't verify it.

On the matter of immunity, though, Hopfinger said Anderson always maintained he had gotten protection from the government. Anderson said something similar in interviews with the Daily News starting in May.

A man answering the phone at Anderson's house Tuesday said he wouldn't deliver a message to Anderson.

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

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