Corruption

Justice Department Withdraws Indictment of Ted Stevens

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The Justice Department is dropping all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who was convicted last year of failing to report gifts from his buddies at VECO Corp., a now-defunct oil services and construction company. In withdrawing the indictment, the government cites several examples of prosecutorial misconduct, the most serious of which seems to be concealing notes from an interview with former VECO CEO Bill Allen that undercut the prosecution's claims about allegedly uncompensated work on Stevens' home in Alaska. In the interview, Allen put the value of the renovations at $80,000, far less than what the government claimed. Prosecutors did not provide the notes to Stevens' attorneys.

It seems safe to say that the actions of the prosecutors in this case are more worrisome than the crimes of which Stevens was accused, which amounted to filling out inaccurate paperwork. But don't get the idea that Stevens, who was convicted before last November's election and lost to Democrat Mark Begich, is innocent. As I've said before, the problem is that his real crimes, which involved funneling billions of dollars in taxpayer money to Alaska, were perfectly legal. 

More on the Stevens case here, here, and here.

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  1. Circle the wagons, Boys!

  2. Pre-eptive strike to all those who are going to say “in principle, if the prosecution committed misconduct, he should get off…”

    If you really think Stevens is getting off on a technicality, rather than the result of some backroom deal, you’re more nieve than you realize.

    Unlike life, everything in politics happens for a reason…

  3. Just to be clear, withdrawing the charges is all about avoiding a hearing into DoJ misconduct, keeping skeletons in closets, hiding dirty laundry, and nothing else. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a DoJ press release stating that people have been fired. It’ll never happen.

  4. the problem is that his real crimes, which involved funneling billions of dollars in taxpayer money to Alaska, were perfectly legal.

    Isn’t there a more appropriate way to word that? Yes, I agree that this should be criminal, but it is not. What about something like ethical behavior or something?

  5. April Fools! Right? Riiiggggghhhhhhtttttt?

  6. jacob sullum seems to think that stevens doesnt deserve to go to jail and of course its because hes a republican. before it was all about how stevens was a crook and now their taking the first chance to claim his innocense how suspicious!!!

  7. I find it suspect that they wait until after the election to drop the charges.

    http://www.notoriouslyconservative.com

  8. I find it suspect typical that they wait until after the election to drop the charges.

    There, fixed it for ya!

  9. Just to be clear, withdrawing the charges is all about avoiding a hearing into DoJ misconduct, keeping skeletons in closets, hiding dirty laundry, and nothing else. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a DoJ press release stating that people have been fired. It’ll never happen.

    Bingo!

    Call me when the DOJ law and oath breaking prosecutors are either fired, prosecuted or disbarred. Any time, day or night. Don’t worry about waking me up.

    Is it wrong for me to assume that Ted Stevens is guilty as hell and the DOJ prosecutors broke the law attempting to reel him in?

  10. Call me when the DOJ law and oath breaking prosecutors are either fired, prosecuted or disbarred.

    Disbarrment is up to the state issuing the law license, not to the DOJ. By all accounts, the DOJ’s office of Professional Responsibility was pissed when they heard what was going on with the Stevens’ case. I haven’t followed it closely enough to know if anyone resigned or got pushed out.

  11. If Stevens has been tried, and convicted in a Court of Law, how do they pull off this bastardizaton of a “do-over”?

    I want to see the Presidential Suit, on prime time television, signing a Presidential Pardon, with Senator Stevens looking over his shoulder wearing a mile-wide shit eating grin. Then they can announce a Special Election for that Senate seat.

    Chang-a-licious-ness, BABY!!

  12. J sub D
    Perfect

  13. When normal people get fucked by prosecutors, they stay in jail. When shitbag politicians get (supposedly) fucked by prosecutors, they get the charges dropped. Justice is blind, right?

  14. Justice is blind, right?

    Not blind, but I’m pretty sure she gets come in her eyes a lot.

  15. SugarFree,

    Justice is a symbol by day and an out of work stripper by night?

  16. Prosecutorial misconduct is rampant in our legal system at all levels. It’s accepted and encouraged by that system.

    The only reason he is getting off is because he’s a well connected politician. This standard will never be applied to anyone who isn’t.

  17. Justice is a washed up whore that will do anything for money as long as it doesn’t result in her being too bruised to show up for her day-job.

  18. Interesting analogy, SugarFree. So you’re saying if I went to the DoJ it would be perfectly acceptable to ask them “How’s everything in the pimp business?” SWEET!

  19. Justice gets raped repeatedly, but I think she secretly likes it.

  20. Epi,

    Are you trying to introduce Atlas Shrugged into this thread too?

  21. Epi,

    Justice had it coming! Did you see what she was wearing? You don’t dress like that and not wanna get some horizontal action!

  22. “I’ll wipe that lascivious smirk right off your face, you degenerate trollop!”

  23. Is it wrong for me to assume that Ted Stevens is guilty as hell and the DOJ prosecutors broke the law attempting to reel him in?

    Of course not! It’s a basic tenet of our legal system: better that 100 guilty people go free than one innocent man gets convicted. unethical prosecutor gets exposed.

  24. Interesting background from the Wall Street Journal Political Diary (no link available, so pardon the long cut ‘n’ paste):

    Justice rules forbid issuing indictments so close to an election that they are likely to affect the outcome, except under extraordinary circumstances. Mr. Stevens was indicted on charges that he lied on his financial disclosure forms in late August of last year. While the charges are serious, the government presented no evidence that Mr. Stevens had done favors for the oil-services company executive who allegedly plied him with gifts. The crimes certainly don’t compare with the outright charges of bribery that Justice brought against William “Cold Cash” Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, or Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a California Republican.

    Yet the Stevens indictment came just days before the Republican primary in which he faced two well-financed competitors. His trial took place that fall and resulted in his conviction a few days before he faced Democrat Mark Begich in a spirited general election. Mr. Stevens wound up losing his bid for a seventh term by less than one percentage point.

    As an irascible impresario of such pork-barrel projects as “The Bridge to Nowhere,” Mr. Stevens did not cut a sympathetic figure. But our system of justice depends on the bedrock principle of equal treatment under the law. That’s not what Mr. Stevens got. Last February, Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan held the federal prosecutors who won the Stevens conviction in contempt of court. He berated William Welch, chief of the department’s public integrity section, and deputy Brenda Morris for failing to deliver internal documents to Mr. Stevens’ lawyers as per his order. “That was a court order, that wasn’t a request,” he told Justice’s lawyers. “Is the Department of Justice taking court orders seriously these days?”

    The documents were related to charges of official misconduct leveled by an FBI agent, Chad Joy, who had been assigned to the Stevens case. He claimed prosecutors had covered up evidence and tried to keep a witness from testifying. He also said his FBI partner in the case, Mary Beth Kepner, had an unspecified “inappropriate relationship” with the state’s star witness, Bill Allen, and other potential witnesses. Judge Sullivan also berated the government for redacting exculpatory passages from witness transcripts.

    Justice’s behavior was so bizarre that it makes one wonder why the hastily-assembled case charging Senator Stevens only with lying on disclosure forms was brought so close to a pivotal election. As the Journal editorial page reported earlier this year, Mr. Welch, the prosecutor in the Stevens case, is a career Justice lawyer. He was appointed to his post by Alice Fisher, who had headed up a broader Justice probe of corruption in Alaska but who had left by the time the Stevens indictment was brought. In a profile last week in his hometown newspaper, the Springfield, Mass., Republican, Mr. Welch was described as a registered Democrat vying for a promotion to U.S. Attorney in Boston. The day this story appeared, he was found in contempt” by Judge Sullivan.

  25. If Stevens has been tried, and convicted in a Court of Law, how do they pull off this bastardizaton of a “do-over”?

    As I’ve heard it:

    1. Stevens has petitioned for a new trial on some basis or another

    2. The DOJ will not oppose, so the petition will be granted, rendering the original conviction moot

    3. DOJ will then withdraw the indictment which makes it like it never happened

  26. Escaped-

    That makes sense, in a through-the-looking-glass sort of way.

  27. P Brooks:

    I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, a proper system must have working mechanisms to overturn bad convictions (and something to provide an inventive for prosecutors to get it right). On the other hand: I suspect the man on principle (well, he is a politician!), and I suspect that this will work better and more reliably for the powerful and connected…

    YMMV and all that.

  28. I find it suspect that they wait until after the election to drop the charges.

    Eric Holder, who made the call to drop the charges, was not Attorney General until after the election.

  29. the justice system is evidently more garbled than ever right now; they should simplify the law as much as possible for the sake of average people

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