Two close friends of Sen. Ted Stevens schemed to conceal the fact that one was paying for extensive work done at the senator's cabin in Alaska, according to FBI audiotapes played today at Stevens' corruption trial. The pair, Bill Allen and Bob Persons, are heard on tape fretting in February 2006 over a plumbing bill marked, "Labor paid for by Bill." They agreed to "make that disappear" and get a check from Stevens to pay for the work—one that would never be cashed.
Instead, they agreed, it should be photocopied and saved in case the senator was ever investigated for ethics violations. "If it ever comes up, you say, 'Bull----. He paid me for that," Persons says. Allen, the government's star witness, finished 4 days of testimony today, but not before he acknowledged, on cross-examination, that in addition to possible leniency at his own sentencing, he has millions of dollars riding on his cooperation. Under the terms of a $380-million sale last year of his company, VECO, the buyer was allowed to withhold $70 million until able to determine whether Allen's cooperation helps deflect criminal charges against the company itself.