October 21st, 2008
08:55 AM ET
14 years ago

Prosecution begins closing arguments in Stevens trial

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/24/art.stevenswave0924.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Stevens greeted onlookers in July as he entered the federal courthouse for his arraignment."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A recorded phone call from one of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' longtime friends opened the prosecution's closing arguments Tuesday in the lawmaker's corruption trial.

"Ted gets hysterical when he has to spend his own money," Bob Persons told a mutual friend in the recording, which was played for jurors by Joe Bottini, the assistant U.S. attorney for Alaska.

Persons is a restaurant owner in the small Alaska town of Girdwood, where the Stevens family owns a residence that doubled in size after extensive renovations he is accused of failing to report, as required, on Senate financial disclosure forms.

Stevens, who spends most of his time in Washington, gave Persons power of attorney so he could get the required building permit to do the work.

Persons made the comment about the senator during a phone conversation wiretapped by the FBI with the consent of Bill Allen, then CEO of Veco Corp., who was at the other end of the line.

Allen has admitted trying to bribe two Alaska state senators, and agreed to testify against Stevens in an attempt to get less jail time.

Stevens, the Senate's longest-serving Republican, has pleaded not guilty to a seven-count felony indictment accusing him of knowingly accepting home repairs and gifts worth more than $250,000 from the oil services company Veco and failing to report them on disclosure forms from about 2000 through 2006.

Bottini told jurors there is "substantial" evidence that Stevens committed the felonies.

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