A special independent investigator who probed into misconduct by prosecutors in the case of the late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens says they should not face criminal charges. Despite that the investigator found widespread concealment of evidence that could have helped Stevens mount his defense.
Ted Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate when he was convicted in 2008 of failing to list on his financial disclosure forms gifts he’d received. Prosecutors said they amounted to $250,000 and included items like house renovations and a massage chair. But accusations of misconduct by FBI agents and withholding of evidence by prosecutors soon surfaced, and when the Obama Administration came into power Attorney General Eric Holder asked that the verdict be vacated. That was a major blow to the Justice Department and its high-profile Public Integrity unit which handled political corruption cases. It also threatened the investigations and convictions into corrupt Alaska lawmakers.
The judge who oversaw the Stevens case US District Judge Emmet Sullivan threw it out in April 2009 and ordered an independent investigator, DC attorney Henry Schuelke, to look into what happened. After years of silence on the case Judge Sullivan filed an order this morning saying that the investigation found the Stevens prosecution was “permeated” by “systematic concealment” of significant evidence that could have seriously damaged the credibility of the government’s key witness, former Veco executive Bill Allen. Schuelke found that at least some of the concealment by the government was “willful and intentional.” Despite that, he did not find criminal violations.
His 500 page report is sealed until the Justice Department has a chance to respond but Judge Sullivan says he does intend to release it publically.
This isn’t the only investigation into the Stevens case. The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting its own look into what went wrong and who’s responsible. Earlier this month Attorney General Holder told a Senate panel that multi-hundred page report will be coming out soon, but it’s unclear whether it will be made public.
Ted Stevens lost his bid for reelection one week after being convicted in 2008 and he died in a plane crash near Dillingham last year. Last week would have marked his 88th birthday.