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Tables turn on FBI agent in Stevens case
Question of the Day
An investigator in the Sen. Ted Stevens case is now being accused in U.S. District Court in the District of doing the same things that led to the Alaskan Republican’s convictions.
A whistleblower complaint by an FBI agent states that investigators and prosecutors committed serious and possibly criminal misconduct, which included hiding evidence and having inappropriate personal relationships with witnesses.
According to the complaint, another FBI agent had improper relationships with witnesses, including star witness Bill Allen, a wealthy oil magnate who paid for the renovations to Stevens’ home. The agent shared meals and confidential law enforcement information with Mr. Allen and others, according to the complaint.
The agent also accepted help finding a house to buy, artwork and employment for a relative from at least one person cooperating with the investigation.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan noted the irony of that accusation, pointing out in his ruling “that the defendant in this case was convicted for failing to disclose that he had accepted multiple things of value and, in fact, the trial included testimony about his receipt of artwork and employment for a relative.”
Defense attorney Robert M. Cary wrote “the parallel is stunning.”
The name of the FBI agent who made the complaint, along with virtually every other name in the document, was redacted. But defense attorneys say the complaint clearly shows that “government representatives lied to the court or stood by silently while other members of the prosecution team represented facts to the court that simply were not true.”
In response to the explosive accusations revealed Monday, Stevens’ attorneys have again asked Judge Sullivan to throw out the case, or, at the very least, order a new trial.
Stevens, 85, was convicted on seven felony counts of failing to include on Senate financial-disclosure forms more than $250,000 in gifts and renovations to his Girdwood, Alaska, home. Stevens, who lost re-election in November after 40 years in the Senate following his conviction, is awaiting sentencing.
The case has seen accusations of prosecutorial misconduct and an unusual amount of post-trial activity, including a letter sent to the judge from a witness claiming he committed perjury and prosecutors knew it, as well an admission from a juror that she lied about the death of her father to get out of deliberations and attend a horse race.
The new complaint also accuses prosecutors of purposely failing to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense. This was an issue during trial, when prosecutors revealed they had failed to turn over evidence, but maintained it had been a mistake. Judge Sullivan ultimately determined that the misconduct was not serious enough to dismiss the case.
According to the complaint, the evidence had been concealed purposely, and one member of the prosecution team was against turning over the exculpatory evidence at all.
The complaint cast suspicion on another contentious move by the government during the trial.
Prosecutors had sent a potential witness back to Alaska without telling the judge or defense attorneys, drawing the ire of both. But prosecutors said they had to send Rocky Williams home because he was in failing health.
The complaint says that was actually an excuse contrived after prosecutors decided he was “not a witness the prosecution wanted to use.”
Release of the complaint, which was made Dec. 2 and is being investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, came after a sealed motion and a closed hearing. Prosecutors argued against revealing the complaint, saying the individuals named in the complaint did not testify at trial and the issues involving disclosure of evidence to the defense had already been handled at the trial.
The judge said their argument “misses the mark.”
“It seems abundantly clear that providing public access to this complaint, which raises issues that question both the integrity of the proceedings and the law enforcement process in this case, is appropriate and, indeed, required,” he wrote.
But he also wrote, “whether the allegation in the complaint is true and, if true, whether it bears on the outcome of the trial remains to be seen.”
About the Author
Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...
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