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Stevens Prosecutor is Back Handling Corruption Cases
Posted By David Baumann On October 18, 2011 @ 11:00 am In News | Comments Disabled
In another sign that the Justice Department is attempting to close the books on the troubled Alaska corruption cases, a DOJ attorney who was transferred out of the Public Integrity Section following the bungled case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is back prosecuting corruption cases, NPR reported .
Edward Sullivan is one of the attorneys handling the sentencing of former Republican Senate aide Trevor Blackann, the radio network reported. He also is working on a bribery case in Utah.
Following the Stevens case, Sullivan and other attorneys who handled the prosecution were transferred to other DOJ sections; Williams was sent to the Office of International Affairs. However in recent months, Stevens prosecutors have reemerged as attorneys in sensitive cases.
The case against Stevens, as well as several state legislators arose from gtheir dealings with Bill Allen, a wealthy Alaska oil man who was cozy with the state’s powerful politicians.
Those cases collapsed when it was discovered that prosecutors had withheld crucial evidence from defense attorneys. Stevens was convicted in federal court of failing to report gifts from Allen and others. He lost his reelection bid, but the case was thrown out as a result of prosecutorial misconduct.
Prosecutors involved in the case were the subject of multiple investigations by the Criminal Division, a court appointed counse and the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of D.C. held former Public Integrity Section officials William Welch II and Brenda K. Morris in contempt for not handing over documents to Stevens’ defense. Sullivan removed them from under contempt, but he didn’t vacate his contempt finding.
Welch and Morris are back handling sensitive cases. Welch, who was chief of Public Integrity Section from 2007 to 2009, was listed as one of the attorneys handling the indictment of Thomas Andrews Drake, a former National Security Agency official accused of providing classified information to a newspaper reporter. Drake pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after a federal judge denied a request by the federal government to keep secret classified documents–a setback for prosecutors’ attempts to pursue leakers.
Morris was one of the attorneys who recently handled a high-profile public corruption case in Alabama. Prosecutors were criticized for their handling of that case, after former state officials and a casino owner were acquitted on several charges and there was a hung jury on others.
Brian Heberlig, who represented Edward Sullivan in the DOJ investigations told NPR that Sullivan had been cleared by ethics authorities.
“The Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility completely exonerated Mr. Sullivan,” Heberlig said. “He should not have been included in the investigation of the Stevens matter in the first place, as he was not on the trial team, had no decision-making authority, and exercised sound judgment in his supporting role. Now that he has been vindicated, Mr. Sullivan has put this matter behind him and is rightfully back prosecuting cases for the Department’s Public Integrity Section.”
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