Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The United Stated Department of Justice has asked for corruption charges against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens to be dropped because evidence was withheld from the defense team by the original prosecutors. The Justice Department has stated that they will not retry Stevens.
In a statement, US Attorney General Eric Holder said, “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.”
Stevens was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on senate disclosure forms about gifts, largely in the form of free renovations to his home, received from an oil service company; his conviction is thought to have been a large factor in his November electoral defeat to former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, the current junior Senator from Alaska. Stevens immediately appealed his conviction and has maintained his innocence.
The prosecution case has met with a number of procedural difficulties, with US District Court judge Emmet G. Sullivan holding the prosecution in contempt in March for failing to turn over documents concerning an FBI whistleblower’s reports of mishandling of the case. The Justice Department has since replaced the case’s prosecutors, and the allegations of misconduct have held up sentencing from the original convictions.
The filed papers indicate that notes were never turned over from an interview that has the oil contractor estimated the house renovation for far less then he specified at trial.
The original trial team was removed, but in the end Attorney General Eric Holder thought it would be best if the case was dropped. NPR’s source indicate that Holder wish to forcefully transmit that prosecutorial misconduct will not be tolerated. The trying prosecutors are under investigation by the Justice Department for their conduct in the matter.
Stevens, now 85, served as Alaska’s Senator from 1968 to 2009.