Corruption figures Allen, Smith begin federal prison terms

Lisa Demer

Bill Allen, the central player in Alaska's long-running political corruption scandal, reported to a federal prison in California on Tuesday morning, according to a Bureau of Prisons spokesman.

Allen, former chief executive of oil field services company Veco Corp., pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy, bribery and tax violations.

Also on Tuesday, former Veco vice president Rick Smith reported to federal prison in Sheridan, Ore. Smith, 64, who pleaded guilty to the same charges as Allen, was sentenced to serve 21 months. He's been assigned to serve his time in Sheridan's minimum security work camp, according to Sheridan spokesman John McCafferty.

Two more Alaskans, both former legislators, are in prison on federal corruption charges. Two others were sent to prison after convictions for corrupt acts involving oil tax legislation, but they are out while a judge evaluates whether they got a fair trial.

Allen, 72, has begun serving his three-year sentence at the Terminal Island federal correctional institution. Allen surrendered at the prison at about 10 a.m. Pacific time, said Edmond Ross, a Bureau of Prisons spokesman in Washington, D.C.

Terminal Island is a low-security facility for men located between Long Beach and San Pedro, at the entrance to the Los Angeles Harbor. It's not one of the federal system's three designated medical facilities, but it does offer specialized and long-term health care short of hospitalization, Ross said.

The prison is in an industrial area on a man-made rectangle of land near shipyards and rail yards, canneries and the old Long Beach Naval Complex.

Inmates can glimpse the sea and watch ships go past. When cruise ships go by, "it's a special treat for the inmates," Ross said.

"It's not beachfront property," he said. But "it's a beautiful location, as prisons go."

The Terminal Island prison has been home to famous criminals and characters over the years: Al Capone and Charles Manson, Timothy Leary and G. Gordon Liddy.

Allen may not have to serve all three years. Under federal law, inmates get 54 days a year off their sentence for good behavior, provided they have a high school diploma or GED, or are working toward it. They get less credit for good behavior if they don't have that minimal education. Allen is a high school dropout.

Certain inmates also can get a year off their sentence if they complete residential drug or alcohol treatment, though there's a long waiting list for that program, according to Allen's federal probation officer, Karen Brewer.

Right after the FBI confronted Allen on Aug. 30, 2006, he agreed to cooperate and eventually testified against state lawmakers and then-U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. But the Stevens case became a tangle and the conviction was thrown out last year.

Allen's sentencing was delayed until October 2009, when he also was ordered to pay a $750,000 fine, the biggest the judge could assess. He was allowed to remain out of custody until his report date.

Allen is an avid car collector and on Oct. 9, less than three weeks before he was sentenced, he was at a Las Vegas auction with daughter Tammy Allen as she bid on a limited-edition Mustang, according to a video of the event on an Iacocca Web site, Her winning bid was $320,000, which, counting a 10 percent fee, put the total price for the No. 5 Iacocca Silver 45th Anniversary Edition Mustang at $352,000. In the video, Allen and Tammy can be seen huddling in the front row during the bidding. Information on the Web site says the buyer was from Colorado, where Tammy lives.

Also in federal prison on corruption charges are:

• Tom Anderson, 42, a former legislator from Muldoon who is serving a five-year sentence at the Sheridan work camp. His tentative release date is April 9, 2012, according to the Bureau of Prisons' inmate locator.

• Bev Masek, 46, a former legislator from Willow who is serving a six-month sentence at a minimum security work camp for women in Victorville, Calif. Her tentative release date is May 8.

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