Prosecutors Call Stevens’ Latest Call for Dismissal ‘Groundless’

Posted October 6, 2008 at 9:36pm

Government prosecutors pursuing a criminal case against Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) argued late Monday that Stevens’ most recent motion to dismiss the case is “factually and legally groundless.” [IMGCAP(1)]Stevens’ attorneys on Sunday had filed for the third time a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the Justice Department had failed to turn over to the defense evidence that would have helped demonstrate the Senator’s innocence. Stevens is accused of failing to disclose on his annual financial disclosure forms $250,000 worth of gifts – particularly in the form of renovations to his home – from the Alaska oil services company VECO and its CEO, Bill Allen. The defense has been particularly concerned about the prosecution’s late disclosure of comments made by Allen suggesting that Stevens would have paid any invoices had he been given any. Stevens’ attorneys have argued that disclosure of that statement earlier in the process would have fundamentally altered the defense. Sunday’s motion also suggested that the prosecution had failed to disclose that one of the oil company workers was out of state at the time that he was billing hours to the Stevens home renovation. But the government responded Monday night that there has been no pattern of hiding evidence, and even the accidental omissions that the government has acknowledges do not rise to the level of violating Stevens’ rights. “The defense continues to engage in baseless speculation regarding the government’s motives and conduct,” the government argued in its reply. “Defendant’s motion flows, in large part, from a misdirection regarding what this case is about. This case is about whether defendant paid for the substantial work and financial benefits provided by VECO and Bill Allen, and whether he knowingly and willfully failed to disclose those benefits on his financial disclosure form. It is not about Bill Allen’s conjecture about what the defendant might have done if he had been provided with an invoice – there is no dispute that the defendant did not pay for VECO’s work and that Bill Allen did not send him an invoice.” The government also argued that its obligation to turn over evidence to the defendant extends only to evidence that is solely in the possession of the government, not information that is readily available elsewhere, such as the whereabouts of the VECO worker during the time in question. The judge has indicated that he will rule on the dismissal motion late Tuesday or early Wednesday.