Alaska Plane Crash Claims U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Four Others

Ted Stevens, the long times Senator representing Alaska and four other die in a  airplane crash on Monday near the village of Dillingham,AK. Four passengers on board survived at hospitals.

Stevens and eight passengers were heading on a fishing trip according to National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman. She said the plane left the Agulowak Lodge around 3 P.M. heading a fishing camp 17 miles from Dillingham.

When the plane with Stevens did not return for dinner; staffer of Agulowak Lodge  notified authorities  who went to search for the plane. The plane was found north of Dillingham in a mountainous area. En climate weather kept rescue workers away from the  crash site. However, Good Samaritans arrived to the scene to help the crash victims, said Alaska Air National Guard spokesperson Maj. Guy Hayes.

An US Army C 130 jet and  Pave Hawk helicopter was in Dillingham waiting for improving weather in order to arrive to crash site.  The C 130 and helicopter got to the site around 7:30 A.M. to take accident victims to hospitals in Anchorage.

According to KTUU-TV/HD “Channel 2 News” the people on board the DeHavilland DHC-3 sea plane in addition to Sen. Stevens including the plane’s pilot Terry Smith, 62, of Eagle River, Bill Phillips, Sr., Dana Tindall, 48 of Anchorage and her daughter, Corey Tindall, 16.

The planes survivors are they are William Phillips, Jr., 13, former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe, 54, his son Kevin O’Keefe, and Jim Morhard of Alexandria, Va. They were taken Providence Hospital in Anchorage  with a variety of injuries.

Stevens the long serving Republican Senator was instrumental in convincing Congress and the Dwight Eisenhower Administration to bring Alaska into the Union in the 1950’s. Stevens born in 1923 in Indianapolis, IN.   Serves in the US Army Air Corp during World War II. Stevens serves the Air Corp  Flying Tigers  squadron in China.   He attend UCLA in 1946 . Stevens attended Harvard Law School and graduated in 1950.

Stevens served in private practice law in Washington,DC and Fairbanks,AK.  Stevens married his wife Ann in 1952. They have Ben, Walter, and Ted; and two daughters Susan and Beth.

Stevens was nominated to the US Department of Justice to replace former US Attorney replacing Bob Mc Nalley  A few years later Stevens took the opportunity to work for the US Department of the Interior. It was there that Stevens became involved in Alaska Statehood.

Ted Stevens returned to Alaska to practice law in 1961. 1964  Stevens was appointed to Alaska House of Representatives. In 1968 Stevens was Appointed to US Senate by then Alaska Governor Wally Hickel replacing the late US Senator Bob Bartlett. State Rep. Stevens  just ran and lost his bid for the US Senate Seat electorally to Anchorage Mayor Elmer E. Rasmuson.

While in the according to Wikipedia Stevens US Senate Career:

Stevens served as the Assistant Republican Leader (Whip) from 1977 to 1985. In 1994, after the Republicans took control of the Senate, Stevens was appointed Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. Stevens became the Senate’s President Pro Tempore when Republicans regained control of the chamber as a result of the 2002 mid-term elections, during which the previous most senior Republican senator and former President Pro Tempore Strom Thurmond retired.

Stevens chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee from 1997 to 2005, except for the 18 months when Democrats controlled the chamber. The chairmanship gave Stevens considerable influence among fellow Senators, who relied on him for home-state project funds. Even before becoming chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Stevens secured large sums of federal money for the state of Alaska. Due to Republican Party rules that limited committee chairmanships to six years, Stevens gave up the Appropriations gavel at the start of the 109th Congress, in January 2005.

He chaired the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation during the 109th Congress, becoming the committee’s ranking member after the Democrats regained control of the Senate for the 110th Congress. He resigned his ranking-member position on the committee due to his indictment.[44]

At various times, Stevens also served as Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senate Ethics Committee, the Arms Control Observer Group, and the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress.

Due to Stevens’ long tenure and that of the state’s sole congressman, Don Young, Alaska was considered to have clout in national politics well beyond its small population (the state was long the smallest in population and is currently 47th, ahead of only Wyoming, North Dakota and Vermont).

In 2008 Stevens lost a re-election to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich a Democrat.  Stevens loss was attributed to a scandal that overshadow him. From Wikipedia:

May 29, 2007, the Anchorage Daily News reported that the FBI and a federal grand jury were investigating an extensive remodeling project at Stevens’ home in Girdwood. Stevens’ Alaska home was raided by the FBI and IRS on July 30, 2007.[62][63] The remodeling work doubled the size of the modest home. Public records show that the house was 2,471 square feet (230 m2) after the remodeling and that the property was valued at $271,300 in 2003, including a $5,000 increase in land value.[64] The remodel in 2000 was organized by Bill Allen, a founder of the VECO Corporation – an oil-field service company – and has been estimated to have cost VECO and the various contractors $250,000 or more.[65] However, the residential contractor who finished the renovation for VECO, Augie Paone, “believes the [Stevens’] remodeling could have cost – if all the work was done efficiently – around $130,000 to $150,000, close to the figure Stevens cited last year.”[66] The Stevens paid $160,000 for the renovations “and assumed that covered everything.”[67]

In June, the Anchorage Daily News reported that a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., heard evidence in May about the expansion of Stevens’ Girdwood home and other matters connecting Stevens to VECO.[68] In mid-June, FBI agents questioned several aides who work for Stevens as part of the investigation.[69] In July, Washingtonian magazine reported that Stevens had hired “Washington’s most powerful and expensive lawyer”, Brendan Sullivan Jr., in response to the investigation.[70] In 2006, during wiretapped conversations with Bill Allen, Stevens expressed worries over potential misunderstandings and legal complications arising from the sweeping federal investigations into Alaskan politics.[71][72] On the witness stand, “Allen testified that VECO staff who had worked on his own house had charged ‘way too much,’ leaving him uncertain how much to invoice Stevens for when he had his staff work on the senator’s house … that he would be embarrassed to bill Stevens for overpriced labor on the house, and said he concealed some of the expense.”[73]

On October 27, 2008, Stevens was found guilty of all seven counts of making false statements. Stevens was only the fifth sitting senator to be convicted by a jury in U.S. history,[84] and the first since Senator Harrison A. Williams (D-NJ) in 1981[85] (although Senator David Durenberger (R-MN) pled guilty to a felony more recently, in 1995). Stevens faced a maximum penalty of five years per charge.[86] His sentencing hearing was originally arranged February 25, but his attorneys told Judge Emmet Sullivan they would file applications to dispute the verdict by early December.[87] However, it was thought unlikely that he would have seen significant time in prison.[88]

Within a few days of his conviction, Stevens faced bipartisan calls for his resignation. Both parties’ presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, were quick to call for Stevens to stand down. Obama said that Stevens needed to resign to help “put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling in Washington.”[89] McCain said that Stevens “has broken his trust with the people” and needed to step down—a call echoed by his running mate, Sarah Palin, governor of Stevens’ home state.[90] Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as fellow Republican Senators Norm Coleman, John Sununu and Gordon Smith also called for Stevens to resign. McConnell said there would be “zero tolerance” for a convicted felon serving in the Senate—strongly hinting that he would support Stevens’ expulsion from the Senate unless Stevens resigned first.[91][92] Late on November 1, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed that he would schedule a vote on Stevens’ expulsion, saying that “a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate.”[93] Had Stevens been expelled after winning election, a special election would have been held to fill the seat through the remainder of the term, until 2014.[94] Some speculated Palin would have tried to run for the Senate via this special election.[95][96] No sitting Senator has been expelled since the Civil War.

Nonetheless, during a debate with his opponent Mark Begich days after his conviction, Stevens continued to claim innocence. “I have not been convicted. I have a case pending against me, and probably the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct by the prosecutors that is known.” Stevens also cited plans to appeal.[97] Begich went on to defeat Stevens by 3,724 votes.[

A Bombshell confession in 2009 broke the Steven’s case wide with allegation of criminal misconduct by staffers at the Justice Department the same department Sen. Stevens in younger days. From Wikipedia:

In February 2009, FBI agent Chad Joy filed a whistleblower affidavit, alleging that prosecutors and FBI agents conspired to withhold and conceal evidence that could have resulted in a verdict of “not guilty.”[102] In his affidavit, Joy alleged that prosecutors intentionally sent a key witness back to Alaska after the witness performed poorly during a mock cross examination. The witness, Rocky Williams, later notified the defense attorneys that his testimony would undercut the prosecution’s claim that his company had spent its own money renovating Sen. Stevens’ house. Joy further alleged that the prosecutors intentionally withheld Brady material including redacted prior statements of a witness, and a memo from Bill Allen stating that Sen. Stevens probably would have paid for the goods and services if asked. Joy further alleged that a female FBI agent had an inappropriate relationship with Allen, who also gave gifts to FBI agents and helped one agent’s relative get a job.

As a result of Joy’s affidavit and claims by the defense that prosecutorial misconduct caused an unfair trial, Judge Sullivan ordered a hearing to be held on February 13, 2009, to determine whether a new trial should be ordered. At the February 13 hearing the judge held the prosecutors in contempt for failing to deliver documents to Stevens’ legal counsel.[103] Judge Sullivan called this conduct “outrageous.”

Convictions voided and indictment dismissed

On behalf of Attorney General Holder, Paul O’Brien submitted a “Motion of The United States To Set Aside The Verdict And Dismiss The Indictment With Prejudice” in connection with case No. 08-231 early on April 1, 2009. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan soon signed the order; as it occurred prior to sentencing, it had the effect of vacating Stevens’ conviction. During the trial, the Judge expressed concern and anger regarding prosecutorial conduct and related issues. Attorney General Holder was reportedly very angry at the prosecutors’ apparent withholding of exculpatory evidence, and wanted to send a message that prosecutorial misconduct would not be tolerated under his watch. After the Judge held the prosecutors in contempt, Holder replaced the entire trial team, including top officials at the public integrity section. Nina Totenberg of NPR reported the misconduct, Stevens’ age, and the fact he was no longer in office prompted him to drop all charges against Stevens—effectively vacating the guilty verdict.[5] The Associated Press subsequently confirmed NPR’s report.[104]

The final straw for Holder, according to numerous reports, was the discovery of a previously undocumented interview with Bill Allen, the prosecution’s star witness. Allen stated that the fair-market value of the repairs to Stevens’ house was around $80,000—far less than the $250,000 he said it cost at trial. More seriously, Allen said in the interview that he didn’t recall talking to Bob Persons, a friend of Stevens, regarding the repair bill for Stevens’ House. This directly contradicted Allen’s testimony at trial, in which he claimed Stevens asked him to give Persons a note Stevens sent him asking for a bill on the repair work. At trial, Allen said Persons had told him the note shouldn’t be taken seriously because “Ted’s just covering his ass.” Even without the notes, Stevens’ attorneys claimed that they thought Allen was lying about the conversation.[105]

Later that day, Stevens’ attorney, Brendan Sullivan, said that Holder’s decision was forced by “extraordinary evidence of government corruption.” He also said that prosecutors not only withheld evidence, but “created false testimony that they gave us and actually presented false testimony in the courtroom”–two incidents that would have made it very likely that the convictions would have been overturned on appeal.[106]

On April 7, 2009, federal judge Emmet G. Sullivan formally accepted Holder’s motion to set aside the verdict and throw out the indictment,[107] based on what he called the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct he’d ever seen. He also initiated a criminal contempt investigation of six members of the prosecution. Although an internal probe by the Office of Professional Responsibility was already underway, Sullivan said he was not willing to trust it due to the “shocking and disturbing” nature of the misconduct.

Stevens leaves behind, His second wife Cathrine Stevens and his five children from is first wife Ann and grandchildren, Steven leaves a legacy serving Alaska and the US. Stevens was 83 years old.

KTUU-TV/HD “Channel 2 News”

Wikipedia

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One response to “Alaska Plane Crash Claims U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Four Others

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