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calendar   Wednesday - April 01, 2009

Appropriate Timing?

April Fool?

Justice Department throws out corruption case against Alaska Senator Stevens, months after his conviction



Huh? Um, what?

The Justice Department has dropped its case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a department source told CNN on Wednesday.  Stevens, 85, was convicted in October on seven counts of lying on mandatory financial disclosure forms. Stevens hid “hundreds of thousands of dollars of freebies” he received from an oil field services company and its CEO, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Matthew Friedrich said. Many of the alleged free services were given as part of the renovation of Stevens’ Alaska home.

Stevens maintained his innocence even after the conviction, and his sentencing has been delayed amid charges by an FBI agent of prosecutorial misconduct.

Stevens also lost the senatorial election last November to Democrat Mark Begich—who had been the Anchorage mayor.

Um, why would they do this? Isn’t the guy guilty? Wasn’t he convicted of taking bribes? Well, yeah, but ...

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity. That’s the department’s section charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.

An angry federal judge held Justice Department attorneys in contempt Friday [2/13/2009] for failing to deliver documents to former Sen. Ted Stevens’ legal team, a rare punishment for prosecutors in a case where corruption allegations have spread to the authorities who investigated him.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said it was “outrageous” that government attorneys would ignore his Jan. 30 deadline for turning over documents.

Last month, Sullivan ordered the Justice Department to provide the agency’s internal communications regarding a whistle-blower complaint brought by an FBI agent involved in the investigation into the former Alaska senator. The agent, Chad Joy, objected to Justice Department tactics during the trial, including failure to turn over evidence and an “inappropriate relationship” between the lead agent on the case and the prosecution’s star witness.

Sullivan said after the government turns over the documents he’s demanded, he will hold further hearings to hear arguments about whether the case was so damaged that Stevens deserves to have his conviction thrown out and a new trial take place.

During Friday’s hearing, Sullivan repeatedly asked three Justice Department attorneys sitting at the prosecution’s table whether they had some reason not to turn over the documents he asked for. They finally acknowledged they did not, and Sullivan exploded in anger.

“That was a court order,” he bellowed. “That wasn’t a request. I didn’t ask for them out of the kindness of your hearts. ... Isn’t the Department of Justice taking court orders seriously these days?”

Judges rarely hold prosecutors in contempt. The most notable recent case occurred in September 2007, when a North Carolina judge jailed prosecutor Mike Nifong for one day on a contempt charge for lying during the rape case against Duke lacrosse players.

But sanctioning federal prosecutors is even more unusual. A Washington bankruptcy judge did so in 1987, ruling that the Justice Department unlawfully tried to put a financially troubled computer firm out of business. In 1995, a federal judge in Texas held a prosecutor in contempt for refusing to provide him information that had been sealed by another judge.

In his complaint turned over to the court in December, Joy accused prosecutors of mishandling evidence, covering up information and trying to keep a subpoenaed witness from testifying.

He also said the lead FBI agent in charge of the investigation, Mary Beth Kepner, had an inappropriate relationship with witness Bill Allen, the Alaska millionaire at the center of the investigation. Joy said he once saw Kepner entering Allen’s hotel room alone. Joy also said Kepner told him she wore a skirt during her appearance at the Stevens trial as a “surprise/present” for Allen.

Joy accused Kepner of developing close personal relationships with other witnesses — inviting them to dine at her home, revealing details of FBI investigations and accepting gifts from them, including a job for her husband as a security guard at the Port of Anchorage, Alaska.

The Justice Department attorneys have given conflicting information about whether Joy has been given whistle-blower status to protect him from retaliation, which is why Sullivan demanded internal communications on the matter.

NPR reports that Holder “wanted to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.” Also, according to the NPR report, Holder “is said to have made his decision because of Stevens’ age.” [Stevens is 85]

So to catch a supposedly dirty Senator, the feds had to use a dirty prosecution, hid evidence, and used a honey trap to procure favors? Nasty. And the new AG, Eric Holder, isn’t going to stand for that kind of monkey shines. Well, good. But Holder is basing his decision to dump the conviction because of Steven’s age? That sounds like BS to me. Stevens is a Republican. Holder would put him in jail if he was 104. He tossed the case because it was dirty from top to bottom, period.

That’s about all I can take away from this.

UPDATE (because Macker saw the obvious conclusion!):

Yup, it’s looking more and more like this was a kangaroo court:

Attorney General Eric Holder decided to abandon the case due to prosecutorial misconduct—one Justice Department source called the stunning turnaround a “black eye” on the department and the FBI.

Stevens was convicted last year of lying on a Senate disclosure form in order to hide $250,000 in gifts he received from an oil company executive and friends.

Only after the conviction did allegations of FBI misconduct come to light. The judge in the case has repeatedly delayed sentencing Stevens, and at one point he held prosecutors in contempt. Justice Department officials later replaced the trial team.

Stevens sought to dismiss the case, and Wednesday’s action in effect supports his request. A hearing has been set for April 7.

In a written statement released Wednesday morning, Stevens suggested he would have fared better in his losing November election had it not been for the “unfair” case against him.

“I always knew that there would be a day when the cloud that surrounded me would be removed. That day has finally come,” Stevens said. “It is unfortunate that an election was affected by proceedings now recognized as unfair. It was my great honor to serve the state of Alaska in the United States Senate for 40 years.”

Holder said he would not seek a new trial.

“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,” Holder said in a statement released shortly after the motion was filed Wednesday.

“The misconduct of government prosecutors, and one or more FBI agents, was stunning. Not only did the government fail to disclose evidence of innocence, but instead intentionally hid that evidence and created false evidence that they provided to the defense,” said attorneys Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. and Robert M. Cary.

Funny, Senator Stevens is a Republican. And this whole thing took place during the Bush administration. Now, no one would ever think that Bush would throw a high ranking politician to the dogs (right Scooter?) or allow for a total miscarriage of justice (like those two Border Guards?), so it’s just inconceivable that this kind of behavior would ever get his approval. But this case seems to be 99% politically motivated, if the drive to convict at all costs was so strong as to cause the FBI and the fed gov to hide and falsify evidence. Let’s find out who were the “motivators” behind this case, all the way up to the top, and see what party (Democrat) they belong to. Then hang them. Yeah right, as if ANY Democrat will even get as much as a scowl for any wrong doing, past or present, in this administration.

Given the level of corruption, greed, pork, etc that passes for normal in DC, somebody must have had the world’s biggest hard-on for Stevens. All this for a quarter million in house repairs [now rumored to be “merely” $80000; another bit of FBI untruth and witness hiding]? Pfha! William Jefferson had a third as much in CASH in the ice box. Marked bills too. And no trial or indictment for him has EVER been made. What gives? It’s not like he’s Martha Stewart, who needed to be publicly flogged to keep the rest of us from undertaking any financial impropriety. [I’m choking on that last one, given Fannie and Freddie etc]


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/01/2009 at 07:28 AM   
Filed Under: • CrimeGovernmentPolitics •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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