Board Reverses Suspensions Of Former-Sen. Stevens Prosecutors

A review board has reversed the suspensions of two federal attorneys accused of withholding evidence in the prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens. The Merit Systems Protection Board ruled this month that the Justice Department bungled the disciplinary process against the two prosecutors. Joseph Bottini was facing a 40-day suspension. James Goeke was to be suspended for 15 days.

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Stevens’ 2008 conviction was eventually tossed out amid charges the U.S. attorneys violated court rules of evidence as they pursued the senator.

Ironically, the attorney suspensions were tossed out because, the review board found, the Justice Department violated its own rules as they pursued the two prosecutors.

The board said the department’s procedural error occurred after an attorney assigned to review the case against Bottini and Goeke concluded they did not commit professional misconduct. Justice officials then re-assigned the case to another attorney, who decided the opposite and pursued the suspensions. The board said that violated the Justice Department’s disciplinary process. The Justice Department can appeal.