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Stevens case prosecutor leaving for private sector

The prosecutor who headed the Justice Department unit that bungled the corruption case against Sen. Ted Stevens is leaving the government.

In court papers filed Monday in a case in Virginia, the department says William Welch is departing for a job in the private sector.

Recently, Mr. Welch has overseen efforts to crack down on officials who leak government secrets. He stepped down as chief of the public integrity section in 2009 amid the controversy over the botched Stevens prosecution. A court-ordered investigation of that case concluded that prosecutors failed to turn over to Stevens’ lawyers some information they had that was favorable to the defense.

Following Stevens’ conviction in 2008, an FBI agent alleged prosecutors had withheld evidence that undercut the testimony of the government’s key witness against the senator. The judge dismissed the conviction at the request of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

A month ago, a special counsel who looked into the Justice Department’s mishandling of the Stevens prosecution found that Mr. Welch directly supervised the conduct of the case only when matters were brought to his attention after controversies arose.

The court-appointed special counsel, Henry Schuelke, said that to Mr. Welch’s credit, on those occasions he directed that disclosure be made to Stevens’ lawyers.

A separate investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded Welch did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment in the Stevens case. That conclusion was contained in a letter by the office to Mr. Welch’s lawyer, who included it in a response to the Schuelke report.

From wire dispatches and staff reports