Ailing Stevens trial witness dies in Anchorage

ROCKY WILLIAMS: He'd been scheduled to testify by both sides.

December 31, 2008 

Rocky Williams, the witness whose non-testimony at the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens proved as controversial as the statements of some others who did take the stand, died in Anchorage Tuesday. He was 58.

Williams was a trusted employee of Bill Allen, president of the oil-field service company Veco Corp., and oversaw Veco's extensive renovations to Stevens' home in Girdwood starting in 2000. He told the Daily News in a series of interviews last year that he worked for Veco until around 2004, when he found himself on the outs with the Allen family with little explanation.

Williams said he was approached by the FBI in 2006 and was interviewed extensively by the two main agents on the case, his contact Chad Joy and agent Mary Beth Kepner. He also testified before a federal grand jury in Anchorage, he said. He didn't feel the need to get an attorney, he said, and didn't negotiate an immunity deal.

"I've got nothing to hide. Don't worry about it a whole lot," he said.

Prosecutors flew Williams to Washington in September and announced him as a witness in Stevens' trial. Williams would potentially offer proof that Stevens got gifts from Veco that he failed to disclose on annual financial statements.

But Williams, who often professed admiration and fondness for Stevens, was also listed as a defense witness.

Without ever calling him to the stand, the government sent him to back to Alaska.

The defense said it learned of Williams' departure when he got back to Anchorage and called. They described the government's action as misconduct, but prosecutors said they were concerned about Williams' health. They didn't publicly disclose all his ailments, but Williams had symptoms of serious liver disease.

The judge was skeptical of the government's claims, questioning whether its real motive was that Williams had turned against prosecutors.

The defense cited information provided by Williams in his call to them to argue that the government overstated the hours that Williams and another high-level Veco employee, Dave Anderson, had worked on the Stevens' home.

The judge agreed the evidence was inflated and told the jury to disregard all the hours accounted by Veco for Williams and Anderson. That still left plenty of evidence that Veco had provided tens of thousands of dollars of free services and material for Stevens, who was convicted on all seven counts.

The recently disclosed FBI whistle-blower complaint, filed by an agent in the corruption investigation against at least one other agent and several Justice Department attorneys involved in the case, backs up the contention that Williams was seriously ill in Washington.

"Williams health was very poor," said the whistle-blower, whose name, along with the subjects of the complaint, was blacked out by the judge. "I requested that Williams be the first to testify so he could testify, get home, and continue to receive medical attention as necessary. I did not want him to die while we had him in Washington, D.C."

But following a mock cross-examination, a prosecutor decided against calling Williams and used the health issue to send him home, the whistle-blower said.

"I advised ... and others multiple times that they should advise the defense counsel and the judge before executing their plan," the whistle-blower said. "I was ignored. They had me send Williams home. The defense and judge found out, were very angry, and suggested prosecutorial misconduct had occurred."

Williams lived in south Anchorage since 1977 in an old trailer crammed with tools and boxes of personal belongings. A manager at the trailer court said a relative paid the rent on Monday because Williams was hospitalized. The relative said doctors didn't give him long to live.

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

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