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Prosecutors in Ted Stevens case held in contempt

The Justice attorneys failed to deliver documents to the former Alaska senator's legal team by a federal judge's deadline.

February 14, 2009|Associated Press

An angry federal judge held Justice Department attorneys in contempt Friday for failing to deliver documents to lawyers for former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a rare punishment for prosecutors in a case where corruption allegations have spread to the authorities who investigated him.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said it was "outrageous" that government attorneys would ignore his Jan. 30 deadline for turning over documents.

Last month, Sullivan ordered the Justice Department to provide the agency's internal communications regarding a whistle-blower complaint brought by an FBI agent involved in the investigation into Stevens.

The agent, Chad Joy, 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.

Stevens was convicted in October of lying on Senate disclosure documents about hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from an Alaska businessman.

In November, Stevens lost his bid for reelection to the Senate seat he had held since 1968.

The contempt citation doesn't immediately change anything for Stevens, who remains a convicted felon and is awaiting sentencing.

It could help his appeal, however, since it bolsters his lawyers' argument that prosecutors repeatedly withheld evidence from them during the trial.

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