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Charges dropped for 1 Stevens prosecutor

February 15, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A federal judge dropped contempt charges Saturday against a Justice Department attorney after concluding he was not responsible for the government's failure to deliver documents to the legal team for former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued the order releasing Kevin Driscoll, the newest prosecutor on the case. It came one day after Sullivan angrily held Driscoll and three colleagues in contempt for ignoring a deadline to turn over documents. Still being held in contempt are William Welch, chief of the public integrity section; principal deputy Brenda Morris; and Patty Merkamp Stemler, chief of the Justice Department's appellate section.

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 Stevens investigation. The agent objected to the department's failure to turn over evidence and to 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 gifts and home renovations from an Alaska businessman. He lost his reelection bid in the November election.

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