The strange developments involving a prosecution witness who said he was untruthful in the case against Sen. Ted Stevens inched forward Tuesday with an order by the trial judge for a "brief hearing" in the matter Dec. 1.
After dealing with cantankerous and AWOL jurors, a lawyer who he thought was signaling a witness, and multiple accusations of prosecutorial misconduct by the defense, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan now has a witness who appears to be recanting at least part of his testimony.
Sullivan, in a one-sentence order to attorneys in the case, indicated he was seeking ideas about how to proceed with the witness, David Anderson, the estranged nephew of former Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen. Anderson, a welder by trade, helped supervise Veco-financed improvements made to Stevens' home in Girdwood starting with a clean-up crew that spent about a week there in the spring of 1999.
Stevens' defense team is a seeking a full-blown evidentiary hearing in February so they can question FBI agents and government attorneys under oath about how they prepared Anderson for his testimony. They also want to learn whether Anderson had gotten immunity for himself, his family and friends for cooperating in the FBI's public corruption investigation in Alaska.
Sullivan said next week's hearing will be to discuss the defense requests.
Prosecutors said Anderson lied in his letter claiming he didn't tell the truth on the witness stand about the immunity deal. Instead, the government said he was truthful when he said he had no formal immunity agreement.
Prosecutors said last week they would respond more fully to Anderson's letter on Monday, but nothing has appeared on the public docket.
Anderson has offered multiple versions of what he considered to be his deal with the government, though none are in writing. In March, he signed a sworn statement that he and 13 friends and relatives, including former state Sen. Jerry Ward, the father of his girlfriend, were covered by his immunity agreement.
Prosecutors have said they learned about that affidavit in August but haven't explained what brought it to their attention. However, on Aug. 11, former private prison advocate Bill Weimar pleaded guilty to making illegal payments to assist the campaign of a state Senate candidate in 2004. The candidate wasn't named in Weimar's plea, but the description closely matched Ward.
Two days after Weimar's plea, FBI agents interviewed Anderson about the March statement, according to a copy of the agents' report and a summary that was provided to Stevens' lawyers. Both documents have been publicly filed in the Stevens docket.
According to the documents, Anderson told the agents that the March affidavit was drafted by Ward, and that Ward decided who would be covered by the purported immunity.
The government said that Ward was the subject of an investigation but provided no details.
In the Aug. 13 FBI interview, the government said, Anderson acknowledged that the only agreement he had with prosecutors was that he would not be required to provide direct testimony against any family member. It's unclear whether Ward or even his daughter would fit into that limited a deal, since they are not related to Anderson by blood or marriage.
"Anderson knew that there had been no agreement relative to immunity or promises of immunity by the government as to anyone," prosecutors said in a pleading Friday.
Anderson, the government's 24th and final witness, was a last-minute addition when he was called to the stand Oct. 9.
Prosecutors previously announced their intention to rest their case the day before, but decided they needed additional testimony on how much work Anderson performed on Stevens' house when evidence of his work hours was stricken from the record because of faulty Veco accounting.