The office of Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance rejected allegations that some of its prosecutors failed to disclose exculpatory information about a government contractor, according to a motion filed today.
The U.S. Attorney’s office urged the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to deny a motion for criminal sanctions against former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and government employees involved with the investigation and prosecution of Defense Department contractor Alex Latifi.
Lawyers for Latifi said Martin and two Assistant U.S. Attorneys should be held in contempt of court for allegedly violating their Brady obligations by withholding information from the defense. Read our previous report about the defense team’s motion here.
“[The defense team's] accusations are serious because the penalties for criminal contempt— fines, imprisonment, or both — are serious,” Vance wrote in a court filing today. “But those penalties are not warranted just because [they] have requested them.”
Latifi, CEO of military parts manufacturer Axion Corp., was acquitted in October 2007 of charges he violated the Arms Export Control Act. Prosecutors alleged that Latifi falsified a report to the Defense Department and sent a drawing of a Black Hawk helicopter part to China.
The Latifi legal team of Henry Frohsin, James Barger Jr. and J. Elliott Walthall from Frohsin & Barger said they have “explicit, unequivocal evidence” that Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Estes and Angela Debro and Army investigators David Balwinski and Marcus Mills allegedly conspired with trial witness James Oglesby to conceal evidence and defraud the court.
Latifi’s lawyers said a series of e-mails between the prosecution and a lawyer for Oglesby’s employer, metal manufacturer Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, purportedly contradict Oglesby’s testimony and allegedly show a conspiracy by the government. Oglesby was a plant manager for the Tungsten Products unit of Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, which did business with Latifi.
Oglesby’s testimony was central to the false report charge, the defense team said. The e-mails — which include Tungsten Products records previously unknown to the defense — were obtained last month through a related lawsuit.
“The … e-mails demonstrate that the government was well aware of the import of these documents and was desperate to have them explained before the trial,” the defense motion said. “Yet, upon receiving whatever explanation was forthcoming, the Government elected to bury this evidence. Instead, the government called Oglesby not once, but twice, to offer misleading half-truths as well as outright lies.”
Vance wrote in her court filing today that the defense team’s claims were “little more than speculation.” Martin told Main Justice earlier this month that the motion from Latifi’s lawyers was “baseless.”
DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility is already investigating a complaint from Latifi that prosecutors mishandled the case. Vance wrote in the filing that OPR was “an appropriate forum” for reviewing allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
Some Alabama lawyers have raised questions about whether politics motivated the prosecution against the Iranian-born Latifi, who has donated money to Democrats.
Martin’s critics have accused her of targeting Democrats, including ex-Gov. Don Siegelman (D) in a bid-rigging case. Her office dropped the case after a judge barred crucial evidence. Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, however, later successfully prosecuted Siegelman on corruption charges. The former governor is attempting to appeal his conviction, alleging prosecutorial misconduct.
Martin, who served as Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney from 2001 to June 2009, has denied the allegations.
[...] including former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin of Alabama’s Northern District, whom he alleged had improperly withheld evidence. Latifi last year filed a contempt motion against the prosecutors, [...]