Washington, DC (March 15, 2012) – A two-year investigation of the prosecution of late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens reveals that federal prosecutors and an FBI agent involved in the case deliberately and wrongfully attempted to convict a sitting U.S. senator on corruption charges they knew, or should have known, were unfounded in fact. A 514-page report of that investigation released today by the special prosecutor, Henry F. Schuelke, III, and his colleague William B. Shields, concludes that federal prosecutors engaged in “systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated [the senator’s] defense.”
Among the report’s findings is evidence that:
- The government encouraged and presented perjured testimony by its star witness, Bill Allen, and hid from the defense written evidence proving lied.
- The government concealed evidence from the defense and the court that Allen had himself suborned perjury in an earlier case, when he encouraged a child prostitute to sign a false affidavit stating that she had not had sex with him when she was 15. Evidence of that earlier misconduct would have substantially damaged the Allen’s credibility.
- The FBI repeatedly failed to memorialize in writing interviews with witnesses, who would have corroborated the testimony of the senator and his wife, to avoid creating evidence favorable to the defense.
- Chief among the corruption allegations was a false charge that Stevens accepted free renovations to his home in Alaska, when in fact the government had written evidence of Stevens asking twice for the bill. Then the government introduced false business records to boost the value of the renovations, including evidence that its key witness disagreed with the government over the value of the construction work.
The Schuelke investigation and the full record of this case should restore the late senator’s reputation. As Stevens’ attorneys point out, there was never a conviction in the case. Conviction occurs only after sentencing, and Judge Sullivan dismissed the case after the verdict but prior to sentencing.
Also today, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and co-sponsors will introduce legislation, the “Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act,” which should help guide federal prosecutors on what kinds of evidence must be disclosed to the defense and when.
Lisa M. Wayne, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, observed, “Even well-intentioned prosecutors lack the clear statutory guidance necessary to ensure the full and prompt disclosure to the defense of favorable evidence. That lack of disclosure contributes to unjust and wrongful prosecutions and convictions.”
In conjunction with today’s events, NACDL has also released a new video, “America Needs Sensible Discovery Reform,” describing similar problems arising over disclosure of evidence and the solution, on the Association’s Discovery Reform web page at http://www.nacdl.org/discoveryreform.
LIVE WEBCAST WITH STEVENS’ COUNSEL TOMORROW
Tomorrow (Friday, March 16) NACDL will hold a free, live webcast interview with Stevens’ attorney Robert M. Cary, of Williams & Connolly LLP, who will discuss the ramifications of the case and the investigation, and the future of federal discovery reform. Contact Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Communications Ivan Dominguez, email@example.com, for further information on the webcast.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.