Whistle-Blower Alleges Stevens Investigators Accepted Gifts

Posted December 20, 2008 at 9:55am

Federal prosecutors in the criminal trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) must publicly reveal a “self-styled whistle-blower complaint” alleging misconduct — including the acceptance of gifts — by investigators who helped to construct the case against the Senator, Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled Friday. According to the order filed late Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a copy of the allegations, redacted to protect the identify of the “federal employee” who authored the document, will be released Monday. The document is described as “authored by a federal employee with extensive knowledge of the investigation and trial in this case.” “The complaint alleges that at least two federal employees intentionally violated policies, procedures, discovery and other legal obligations associated with the government’s investigation in Alaska and Senator Stevens’ trial,” Sullivan wrote. Among the allegations Sullivan revealed are contentions that an unnamed law enforcement officer who worked on the investigation had “inappropriate contacts and communications with key government witnesses and sources and intentionally withheld … information from the defense.” In addition, the unnamed federal employee “also alleges that a member of the prosecution team schemed to relocate a witness in order to keep him from testifying,” Sullivan wrote. Federal prosecutors had sought to file the unedited document ex parte, or solely to Sullivan, while filing a separate redacted copy to Stevens defense. Sullivan denied that request and ordered federal prosecutors to provide an unredacted copy of the letter to Stevens defense team. He also criticized an earlier redacted version provided to Stevens, noting that prosecutors had redacted critical information. “For example, the government redacted an allegation that one employee working on the investigation ‘accepted multiple things of value’ from sources cooperating with the investigation, including artwork and employment for a relative,” Sullivan wrote. “Surely the Court does not need to remind the government 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.” Stevens was found guilty in late October on seven counts of filing false financial statements to conceal the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts — most in the form of renovations to his Girdwood, Alaska home — from the now defunct oil services firm VECO and its chief executive, Bill Allen. The order could mark a positive turn for Stevens, who has filed a motion seeking a new trial or outright acquittal on all charges, asserting various misdeeds on the part of federal prosecutors. In his ruling, Sullivan criticized federal prosecutors argument to seal a portion of the complaint by asserting that some of the allegations are already under investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. “It would be patently unfair to curtail the defendant’s ability to challenge his convictions based on alleged prosecutorial and law enforcement misconduct simply because that conduct is under investigation by the Department of Justice,” Sullivan said.