Bill Allen, the disgraced Alaskan oil services executive, died in Colorado on Wednesday, according to a funeral home in Grand Junction. He was 85 years old.
Allen and Veco, his oil services company, became key players in an Alaskan political corruption scandal that unfolded in the mid-2000s. Allen was the central government witness following his guilty plea for corruption in 2007. Several state legislators were sentenced to prison for accepting money from Allen and Veco.
The former Alaskan oilman has seen his business empire, career and credibility implode amid a sweeping public corruption investigation. For about three years, he was the insider witness for federal prosecutors, admitting to offering money and promises to state lawmakers who were embroiled in a rewrite of state oil taxes.
Allen was a key witness against former U.S. Senator from Alaska Ted Stevens, who was convicted in 2008 of failing to properly disclose the gifts. The case was later dismissed. An investigation determined that the federal prosecutors in the case engaged in “gross, widespread, and, at times, intentional misconduct.”
Allen was convicted of bribery and tax offenses and served time in federal prison. He admitted giving money and other gifts to Alaska state lawmakers to urge them to support oil and gas legislation that would help his business and his customers.
He served most of his prison sentence in New Mexico, where his son owned a ranch and racehorses.
Allen also faced allegations of sexual abuse of minors. He was sued in 2014 by a woman claiming to be his teenage sex victim. Allen admitted to having sex with Paula Roberds, although he claimed he thought she was 19, not 15 as she claimed. Roberds said she met Allen in 1999 and they had a relationship for several years.
In 2010, senior U.S. Justice Department officials quashed federal charges against Allen on sex charges involving minors.
After Allen pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges, Veco was sold to Denver-based CH2M Hill for $146 million split among the company’s six owners, including Allen and his three children.
Allen was behind Veco almost from its inception. Born in New Mexico and raised in Oregon, he first came to Alaska around 1968 to work as a welder in the Alaskan oil fields.
He soon joined a new welding company started by Wayne Veltri. Veltri Enterprises became VE Construction, and eventually Veco. Allen bought out Veltri in 1970.
Veco eventually expanded from oilfield services to involvement with a commercial gold mine in interior Alaska, a drilling and mining supply company in Grand Junction, Colorado, and a shipyard in Houston, Texas – which became a cash drain for the company and landed it in bankruptcy court in 1982.
The company was restructured and eventually made millions as the prime contractor for the cleanup of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
That same year, Allen purchased the Anchorage Times, declaring that he would make it “the best newspaper in Alaska.” The Anchorage Times was closed three years later. Through an unorthodox deal, Allen continued to run an opinion and commentary column titled “Voice of the Times” in the opinion pages of the Daily News.
Allen continued to publish in the Daily News until he pleaded guilty to bribing state lawmakers in 2007.
Veco was known to donate large sums of money to political candidates in Alaska even before the 2007 corruption probe. A fundraising program that took money from Veco employees’ paychecks and funneled tens of thousands of dollars to favored Republican candidates was ruled illegal by state officials in 1984.
Allen became personally involved in an effort to rescue three gray whales trapped in the ice off the Alaskan coast in 1988. Veco spent $150,000 on the effort. A Hollywood film based on these events and Allen’s involvement – “Big Miracle” – was released in 2012.
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