Former Veco boss who served prison time in corruption scandal has died

a man in a tie walks out of a courtroom
Bill Allen, former chief executive of VECO Corp. leaves federal court Wednesday Oct. 28, 2009 in Anchorage, Alaska, after he was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $750,000 for bribery and conspiracy. (AP Photo/Al Grillo)

Bill Allen, who was at the pinnacle of wealth and power in Alaska until he was exposed as a central figure in a political corruption scandal, has died. He was 85.

Allen founded Veco, which was, for years, the state’s largest oilfield services company. He signed lucrative contracts to clean up Alaska’s worst ecological disaster — the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Journalist Rich Mauer, who covered Allen’s legal proceedings for the Anchorage Daily News, says Allen was a force in Alaska politics long before the corruption case came to light.

“He was one of the most powerful people in Alaska because he had the money to give to campaigns,” said Mauer.

In 2007, Allen pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers to win votes for a state oil tax law favorable to his company. The FBI secretly video-taped him in his Juneau hotel suite discussing payoffs to legislators.

Allen was also the key witness in the prosecution of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, whose 2008 conviction was later overturned based on prosecutorial misconduct.

Allen was given leniency in exchange for his cooperation and was sentenced to three years in prison. He served less than two years. A funeral home in Grand Junction, Colorado announced Allen died last Wednesday.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.