Archive for Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Judge dismisses conviction of Stevens

Rare criminal probe ordered into prosecutors’ conduct

April 8, 2009

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— A seething federal judge dismissed the corruption conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens on Tuesday and took the rare and serious step of ordering a criminal investigation into prosecutors who poisoned the case.

“In nearly 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said.

Sullivan appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Justice Department lawyers who repeatedly withheld evidence from defense attorneys and the judge during the monthlong trial. Stevens was convicted in October of lying on Senate forms about home renovations and gifts he received from wealthy friends.

The case cost Stevens, 85, a Senate seat he had held for 40 years. Once the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, he narrowly lost to Democrat Mark Begich soon after the verdict.

Now, the case could prove career-ending for prosecutors in the Justice Department’s public corruption unit.

After Sullivan dismissed the case, Stevens turned to his friends and held up a fist in victory as his wife and daughters broke into loud sobs.

“Until recently, my faith in the criminal system, particularly the judicial system, was unwavering,” Stevens told the court Tuesday, his first public comments since Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would drop the case. “But what some members of the prosecution team did nearly destroyed my faith. Their conduct had consequences for me that they will never realize and can never be reversed.”

The unraveling of the case overshadowed the facts of a trial in which Stevens was shown to have accepted thousands of dollars in undisclosed gifts.

Sullivan appointed Washington attorney Henry Schuelke to investigate contempt and obstruction by the Justice Department team. Schuelke is a former prosecutor and veteran defense attorney who oversaw a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into influence-peddling allegations against former New York Sen. Alfonse D’Amato in 1989.

Sullivan said the misconduct was too serious to be left to an internal investigation by the Justice Department, which he said dragged its feet before investigating. He criticized former Attorney General Michael Mukasey for not responding to complaints: “Shocking, but not surprising,” Sullivan said.

He worried aloud about how often prosecutors withhold evidence.

Comments

Frank Smith 6 years ago

Ex-Senator Ted Stevens supporters are loudly proclaiming his "innocence." He is no more innocent than O.J. Simpson who was found not guilty of murder. He took not "...thousands of dollars," but hundreds of thousands. Most of his offenses were committed in Alaska, where half the voters think he's Robin Hood. The feds never would have been able to find an unbiased jury there. As a result he was tried in DC for the least of his offenses and found guilty on seven counts by a jury.

In an effort to present a picture of a "wrongly accused man" to voters, Ted pushed for a speedy trial, greatly impeding both prosecution and defense.

He knew better. He's a former U.S. Attorney for Alaska. But the judge was able to try the case before the election, sinking Stevens, though barely.

The prosecution made serious mistakes handling the mountains of evidence, but there is no doubt as to Stevens' guilt, nor evidence for malicious behavior on the part of the feds.

Prosecution exhibit #650 was an audiotape of a tapped phone call with chief briber, Bill Allen. Stevens said, "were going to have to round up a bunch of money for lawyers, maybe pay a fine and do a little time."

The convicted corrupter Allen, like Jack Abramoff, ponied up. His VECO campaign finance laundry, his family and executives, donated maximum amounts to "our" KS and MO reps directly, besides $88,000 in contributions funneled through Stevens' Northern Lights PAC. The PAC paid off such luminaries as Kit Bond (at least $19,976), Jim Talent ($10,000) & Sam Brownback ($10,000). Roberts only got $1,132, but Norm Coleman, got $10,000.

Stevens also got considerable assistance from an incompetent FBI man, Chad Joy, who bungled his part of the case and made extremely inflammatory, though mostly baseless complaints about the government's handling of the case.

Supporters such as Sarah Palin and "R" party chair Randy Ruedrich, whom she outed for doing partisan politics on the state payroll much as she'd done in Wasilla, have called for a "do over" of the election that finally ousted Stevens after 40 years. This wasn't an audible theme in 2000, as "R"s labored to keep votes being counted in Florida, nor now, when they're determined to put Al Franken's election before the remaining black-robed co-conspirators (Thomas, Scalia and Kennedy) who stole the 2000 election, and their newer sleazy colleagues, Roberts and Alito

This conniver grifted billions of earmarked taxpayer dollars for the worst boondoggles, from the Usibelli family "clean coal" mine at Healy ($300 million), to worthless anti-missile defense sites at Ft. Greely and Kodiak (trillions, nationwide), and, as most Americans are aware, the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere," a $250 million scam Palin actually vigorously supported though finally disowning it when she hit the national stage.

The further shameful consequence of all this is Stevens' son Ben may well escape prosecution. He is even more larcenous than his dad.

jaywalker 6 years ago

"The prosecution made serious mistakes handling the mountains of evidence, but there is no doubt as to Stevens' guilt, nor evidence for malicious behavior on the part of the feds"

Serious mistakes?! No evidence of malicious behavior?! What color is the sky in your world?!! From what's come out so far there were actions, inactions, and aggregious prosecutorial misconduct---not 'mistakes', and alot of it was nothing if not malicious.
I don't doubt Stevens' guilt, but when a judge says “In nearly 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” it's a hell of a lot more serious than a few 'mistakes'. If the case against he and his son was so airtight, why the blatant misconduct? The rule of law must be followed, this ain't 'sposed to be handled with the objectivity of a lynch mob. Sorry, your partisan vitriol is pathetic, Kropotkin.

lawthing 6 years ago

Stevens guilt or innocense at this point makes no difference, if the prosecutors are not operating under the laws they take an oath to uphold, then they are no better than he is.

You can't clean up someone elses back yard if your yard is dirty as hell!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

This whole mess begs the question of who within BushCo Stevens pissed off, and what he did to do it. BushCo's nearly complete politicization of the Justice Dept mean that this conviction was OK'ed somewhere very near the top Why did they push this prosecution so hard, apparently unethically and even illegally, knowing full that it could throw a safe Republican senate seat to the Democrats?

jaywalker 6 years ago

Aah, it was a 'BushCo' conspiracy. Brilliant.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

" I havn't seen the liberal media really running too hard with this story,"

Really? How do you define hard? And how do you explain why a Republican Administration would want rid of Stevens so badly?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

Perhaps more accurately, why would a corrupt Republican Administration want rid of a corrupt Republican Senator so badly?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Dems got what they wanted, didn't they?"

You can spin all the untestable hypotheticals you want, Tom, but the fact remains it wasn't the Dems who got rid of him. So the question remains-- why did they take Stevens secret decoder ring away from him?

jaywalker 6 years ago

"You can spin all the untestable hypotheticals you want, Tom, but the fact remains it wasn't the Dems who got rid of him. So the question remains— why did they take Stevens secret decoder ring away from him?"

Don't wanna hear hypotheticals from one angle, just your angle. Excellent. And the answer to that question is (or at least it should be) 'cuz it was the right thing to do. What more do you want?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

To which hypothetical are you referring?

A Republican Justice Department, did, in fact, engage in prosecutorial misconduct to bring down a Republican Senator. That is not a hypothetical. I have posed the question, "Why?" I have not hypothesized about the answer to that question.

"And the answer to that question is (or at least it should be) 'cuz it was the right thing to do."

What was the right thing to do? The prosecutorial misconduct?

jonas_opines 6 years ago

It's well known that Stevens, like Palin, was anti-Polar Bear liberty. It's a sure bet that this is all in order to protect McCain and his polar bear compatriots. They didn't get the election, but with Obama's problems, and of course the impending Domo-kun invasion, they may get it the next time around, with one of the other more reasonably-tempered bears.

jaywalker 6 years ago

"I have posed the question, “Why?” ........

Which would require a hypothetical answer since what you're fishing for is some sort of idiotic conspiracy theory. Since noone has any facts to spin the story you want, it would have to be a hypothetical situation now, wouldn't it?

"What was the right thing to do? The prosecutorial misconduct?"

Exceptionally dense today, bozo, or just bein' a jackass? You wrote yourself that you asked "Why?" did his own party seek his prosecution. They went after him because they should have and they had to ---- it was the right thing to do. What more reason could you possibly want unless it's some cockamamie conspiracy? The guy was dirty, doesn't matter what party he's in, he needed to go down and be removed from office. Done.

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