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Ted Stevens Prosecution Team and the Bad Judgment Olympics


This morning’s Washington Post (among many news outlets) has the story
about all the ways that investigators and prosecutors working on the bribery and hideously bad judgment case against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, may have used hideously bad judgment and received goods and favors that look sort of….well……bribe-ish.

The allegations come from a whistleblower complaint that was made public yesterday. The whistleblower is an FBI agent who worked on the case against Stevens, and who appears to have had it with the idiotic—and in some cases, possibly criminal—- behavior of those working on the case with him.

[The complaint] alleges that FBI agents met with witnesses in their homes and hotel rooms and even provided one source with a bureau-issued cellphone. An FBI agent apparently became so friendly with a key witness that the investigator wore a special outfit when the man testified. “It was a surprise/present for Allen,” the complaint alleged, in a reference to former oil executive Bill Allen.

The whistleblowing agent, who joined the bureau in 2003, also wrote that members of the prosecution team “created a scheme” to send a witness home before trial and that they inappropriately altered a document later turned over to Stevens’s attorneys.

And there is this from the Washington Times:

The most recent accusations, described by prosecutors as a “self-styled whistleblower complaint,” contains allegations already made during the trial, according to Judge Sullivan’s ruling. Those included accusations that prosecutors purposely withheld evidence from the defense — which the judge agreed was true but wasn’t serious enough to warrant dismissing the case.

In at least one new allegation, an investigator ” ‘accepted multiple things of value’ from sources cooperating with the investigation, including artwork and employment for a relative.”

Judge Sullivan noted the irony of that accusation, pointing out in his ruling “that the defendant in this case was convicted for failing to disclose that he had accepted multiple things of value and, in fact, the trial included testimony about his receipt of artwork and employment for a relative.”

But he went on to write, “whether the allegation in the complaint is true and, if true, whether it bears on the outcome of the trial remains to be seen.”

The complaint was made Dec. 2 to the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The name of the person who made the complaint has been redacted from court documents, but is described as “a federal employee with extensive knowledge of the investigation and trial in this case.”

Prosecutors argued against revealing the complaint for several reasons, including that the individuals named in the complaint did not testify at trial, and the issues involving disclosing evidence to the defense had already been handled at the trial.

The judge, who has frequently been critical of prosecutors, said their argument “misses the mark.”

“It seems abundantly clear that providing public access to this complaint, which raises issues that question both the integrity of the proceedings and the law enforcement process in this case, is appropriate and, indeed, required,” he wrote.

Obviously, this is not the sort of thing that gives the general public confidence in our criminal justice system.

On the other hand, with California going broke in two months, according to state Controller John Chiang, and the stock market tanking again yesterday, maybe the Alaska bad judgment follies are a welcome distraction.

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