The Justice Department isn’t taking any special action to remove William Welch II, head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, from the case against former lobbyist Kevin Ring, despite U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle’s comments Monday that the DOJ should “clean up” his role in the proceedings and “wall” him off from the case.
It remains unclear what - if any - action Justice could or will take on Welch, since the Ring case is already at an advanced stage, and Huvelle did not issue a direct order regarding Welch’s involvement. Welch is not a line prosecutor on the case, but the indictment was issued with his name on it, an indication of his supervisory role.
Welch will not be present at future court proceedings regarding the case, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney told Main Justice, referring to comments made by Michael J. Leotta, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, DOJ Criminal Division prosecutor Nathaniel B. Edmonds and Public Integrity Section prosecutor Michael Ferrara at the court hearing Monday. Welch is still the head of the Public Integrity Section, she said.
Welch oversaw the indictment last September of Ring, who worked with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Among the charges against Ring is that he lied to an internal investigator hired by Abramoff’s former employer, the law firm Greenberg Traurig. That investigator was Henry F. Schuelke III, who was ordered by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to investigate Welch and others for the Justice Department’s handling of the Ted Stevens. Ring’s lawyers raised the issue in a court hearing on Monday of whether Schuelke has a conflict of interest, since he could be called to testify about the charges Welch brought against Ring. Huvelle however said she didn’t see a conflict.
May 29 will be the final day Ring lawyers Richard Hibey, Andrew Wise, Matthew Reinhard and Timothy O’Toole can file motions before the case proceeds to jury interviews.