Justice Department Plans to Drop Case Against Convicted Former Senator

April 1, 2009 - 9:27 AM
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Washington (AP) - The Justice Department has asked a judge to drop corruption charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens, saying prosecutors withheld evidence from the trial that led to his conviction.
 
The 85-year-old Alaska Republican was convicted late last year on seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from a businessman.
 
In early morning court filings Wednesday, the Justice Department said prosecutors withheld evidence from Stevens' defense team that could have been used at trial.
 
Prosecutors asked that the charges be dropped. They said they will not seek a new trial.
 
The patriarch of Alaska politics, Stevens lost his re-election bid in November and was awaiting sentencing.
 
The 85-year-old Alaska Republican was convicted late last year on seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from a businessman.
 
In December, Stevens asked a federal judge to grant him a new trial or throw out the case, saying his trial had many "deficiencies."
 
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan held Justice Department lawyers in contempt last month for failing to turn over documents as ordered. He called their behavior "outrageous."
 
Sullivan had ordered Justice to provide the agency's internal communications regarding a whistle-blower complaint brought by an FBI agent involved in the investigation of Stevens.

The agent objected to Justice Department tactics during the trial, including failure to turn over evidence and an "inappropriate relationship" between the lead agent on the case and the prosecution's star witness.
 
The Justice Department has since assigned a new team of prosecutors to the case.