Prosecutor: Sen. Stevens did not report statue
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, facing trial next week on corruption charges for leaving out more than $250,000 in gifts from his financial disclosure forms, also failed to report a $29,000 statue of a fish, a prosecutor said on Thursday.
Justice Department prosecutor Edward Sullivan told a hearing the bronzed, sculpted statue "is sitting on his front porch," an apparent reference to Stevens' home in Alaska. A defense lawyer said the statue depicted migrating salmon.
Stevens is set to go on trial next week on seven counts of filing false Senate financial disclosure forms by leaving out extensive renovations to his house in the ski resort town of Girdwood and other gifts from an Alaska oil services company, VECO Corp.
Sullivan did not give further details about who gave the statue or when it was given. But defense lawyer Robert Cary said the statue was really destined for Stevens' official congressional library that has yet to be built by a foundation.
Stevens, 84, faces a close race for re-election in November against a Democratic challenger in what has long been a safe Republican seat. Stevens has been in the Senate for 40 years and is the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said a group of potential jurors would fill out a questionnaire on Monday. Prosecutors and defense lawyers would begin questioning potential jurors on Tuesday, a process that could take a couple of days. Opening arguments are expected later next week.
Sullivan also ruled that defense lawyers can get the medical records of the prosecutor's star witness in the case, Bill Allen, VECO's former chief executive, involving his 2001 motorcycle accident.
Allen suffered some brain damage in the accident. The defense wants the records in an effort to discredit Allen's testimony.
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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