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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

DOJ moves to set aside verdict against ex-senator Ted Stevens
Jay Carmella at 12:00 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a motion [text, PDF] in federal court Wednesday seeking to set aside the verdict and dismiss the indictment on corruption charges against former senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) [US Congress backgrounder]. Stevens was convicted [JURIST report] in October on seven counts of making false statements relating to an alleged corruption scheme and for falsifying his Financial Disclosure Forms. The DOJ later admitted that it did not turn over relevant evidence [AP report] to the defense in preparation of trial. The behavior of the prosecution led to a request in December by defense that the conviction be removed and a new trial ordered. In February, the DOJ lawyers were held in contempt by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan for their failure to turn over documents. US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] said [statement] Wednesday:

In connection with the post-trial litigation in United States v. Theodore F. Stevens, the Department of Justice has conducted a review of the case, including an examination of the extent of the disclosures provided to the defendant. 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.
Holder indicated that the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility [official website] will conduct a review of the prosecution to determine if any action will be taken against them. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday to determine whether the conviction will be vacated.

Following his conviction, Stevens lost his re-election bid in November to Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) [official profile]. Stevens was charged [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] with accepting approximately $250,000 in gifts over an eight-year period from the founder of oil services and engineering company VECO Corp. [corporate website]. According to the indictment, the gifts included home improvements, vehicle trades, and other smaller gifts. In exchange, he reportedly used his influence in Washington to improperly benefit the company and its employees. The DOJ reported that other politicians and lobbyists were convicted in connection with the investigation, including former Alaska state Representative Tom Anderson [JURIST report]. In October 2007, Anderson was sentenced [JURIST report] to five years in prison for accepting nearly $26,000 he believed to be from private correctional facilities firm Cornell Industries [corporate website] in exchange for Anderson's influence on then-pending measures on halfway houses.

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