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Former Veco VP will be off probation for bribery early

Richard Mauer

The ex-Veco vice president who pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska legislators is poised to get his three-year probation lifted after only a year of supervision.

Rick Smith, 67, has served his 21-month prison sentence, paid his $10,000 fine and $300 assessment, "and is considered a low risk to re-offend," his probation officer said in a notice filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

The probation office is asking U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to order early termination of Smith's probation. Smith began his original three years of probation when he was released from federal prison July 20, 2011.

Smith was at the center of the most notorious episode of political corruption in state history, a period in which he or his boss, Veco chairman Bill Allen, admitted bribing or giving illegal gifts and contributions to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, U.S. Rep. Don Young, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens, former House Speaker Pete Kott, and former State Reps. Vic Kohring, Bev Masek, John Cowdery and Bruce Weyhrauch. Of those, Young and Ben Stevens were never charged, Weyhrauch pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor lobbying-law violation, and Ted Stevens had his seven felony convictions thrown out when prosecutors admitted withholding evidence from his defense team.

Veco was an oil-field contractor that made most of its money from the state's big oil producers. Allen sought to influence government and legislative decision on oil taxes and other matters of interest to his own company and to the big producers. Most of the bribes, handed out by Allen and Smith in 2006 inside their Juneau hotel suite and recorded by a secret FBI camera, were paid when an oil-tax measure was before the Legislature and Allen was hoping for a favorable deal for industry.

Probation supervisor Scott Waters said that after a year of supervised release, his department or the probationer can petition the court for early termination.

"It's a common thing depending on the type of case, the risk level, the recidivism," Waters said. "(Smith) has satisfied his financial conditions, he's probably considered a low-activity type of case for us."

According to the notice filed Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office had no objection to early termination.

Smith's attorney didn't return a call for comment.

Allen, 75, was released from prison Nov. 22 and is serving his probation in New Mexico, where his son has a ranch and raises race horses.


By RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News