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Veco chairman, VP plead guilty to bribery

May 8, 2007 at 2:31 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, May 8 (UPI) -- Two top officers of an Alaska oil company responsible for much of the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup pleaded guilty to bribing four state legislators.

Veco Corp. Chairman Bill Allen and Vice President Rick Smith each face up to 10 years in prison for making more than $400,000 in illegal payments and promises to as many as six public officials or family members.

More than half the money went to former Senate President Ben Stevens -- son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska -- in the form of phony "consulting" fees, the government charged.

Stevens was not charged, the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News reported.

In return for special consideration at sentencing, Allen, 70, and Smith, 62, agreed to cooperate in the federal investigation.

They face up to $750,000 in fines.

Allen and Smith acknowledged making the payments and promises of jobs to the legislators last year. In return, the legislators agreed to vote for an oil-production tax favored by the oil industry, prosecutors alleged.

Veco is an Anchorage-based oil field services and construction company whose executives are major contributors to political campaigns.

It won the contract to clean up large parts of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound -- the largest crude-oil spill in U.S. history -- hiring 2,500 workers to clean up the environmental disaster.

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