DOJ Says Ted Stevens Case Bungled Beyond Repair
By Mary Jacoby | April 1, 2022 5:29 pm

Careers are over.

The Justice Department filed a motion on Wednesday to throw out the guilty verdict against former Sen. Ted Stevens and dismiss his indictment on corruption charges, citing prosecutorial mistakes that deprived the Alaska Republican of a fair trial.

The dramatic move comes after several public scoldings of prosecutors by an angry U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, a whistleblowing complaint by an FBI agent assigned to the case, and an internal DOJ investigation that found new evidence of prosecutorial misconduct. Specifically, prosecutors failed to provide their notes to the defense about statements made by a key witness that were “inconsistent” with his testimony at trial, Wednesday’s motion said.

Brenda Morris, the lead prosecutor in the case and deputy in the Public Integrity Section, seemed to fear this was coming. In a Dec. 19 hearing, she desperately tried to convince Sullivan that any information the government hadn’t turned over was a “mistake” and didn’t “trigger any constitutional right of the defendant.” She added:

“[I]t changes the evidence in no way. What it does, though, Judge, is have an effect on many individuals professionally, administratively, privately, publicly, potentially …”

Sullivan said:

“I totally agree there are other people’s interest, maybe livelihoods, reputations [at stake].”

Morris answered:

“That’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right.”

Click here and here to read our previous posts about Public Integrity’s travails. In February, Sullivan had found Morris, Public Integrity Chief William Welch, and Criminal Division Appellate Section Chief Patty Stemler in contempt of court. (Trial attorney Kevin Driscoll was later removed from the contempt finding.)

The new evidence disclosed by the government on Wednesday were notes of an April 15, 2022 witness interview with Bill Allen, owner an Alaska oil services company who was alleged to have provided $250,000 in home renovation services to Stevens that the government said weren’t reported on the senator’s financial disclosure reports. The notes were taken by two prosecutors — the motion did not identify them — and reflected Allen’s estimate that his company performed about $80,000 worth of work on Stevens’ chalet.

Stevens maintained his innocence, and his lawyers said at trial he had paid every bill sent to him. The discrepancy in Allen’s statements was material to Stevens’ defense, the motion said. “This information could have been used by the defendant to cross-examine Bill Allen and in arguments to the jury,” the motion said.

Wednesday’s motion was written by Paul M. O’Brien, chief of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section; David L. Jaffe, deputy chief of the Domestic Security Section; and William J. Stuckwisch, a senior trial atttorney in the Fraud Section. The three had been brought in by the government to handle post-trial defense motions of prosecutorial misconduct. The new information was referred to the Office of Professional Responsiblity in its ongoing investigation of the matter, the motion said. The OPR report will be shared with the Court upon completion, the motion said.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement:

“After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”



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