On May 29, 2007, agents from the FBI and IRs raided the Girdwood, Alaska home of Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, as part of a federal inquiry into remodeling being done on the property.
Stevens, then 84, was indicted in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2008 on seven counts of failing to properly report gifts. The prosecution alleged that Stevens had failed to report the renovations to his home and alleged gifts from VECO Corporation totaling about $250,000.
Because Stevens was up for re-election in the fall of 2008, he requested the trial be held immediately. The key prosecution witness was Bill Allen, an oil service company executive who had previously pled guilty to bribing several Alaskan state legislators and whose sentencing was deferred until after he testified in the Stevens’ case.
Stevens was found guilty on all counts on October 27, 2008, only the fifth sitting U.S. Senator in U.S. history to be convicted of a crime. Amid calls for his impeachment, Stevens lost the election in November, 2008. He served from December 24, 1968 until January 3, 2009—the longest Republican senatorial tenure in U.S. history.
In February, 2009, an FBI agent filed an affidavit contending that federal prosecutors and other FBI agents had withheld and hidden exculpatory evidence. Among other things, the agent claimed that prosecutors sent a key witness back to Alaska because he did not perform well in a mock cross-examination, and hid a memo from Allen saying that Stevens probably would have paid for the goods and services if asked. The affidavit also contended that a female FBI agent had an inappropriate relationship with Allen.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the trial, held a hearing on February 13, 2009, at which he held the prosecution in contempt for failing to turn over documents to Stevens’s defense. He ordered a special investigation of the case.
It was later discovered that the prosecution failed to disclose an interview with Allen, and the prosecution knowingly allowed Allen to contradict what he had said in the interview and lie under oath at the trial. In the interview, Allen said the fair market value of the improvements on Steven’s property was about $80,000—sharply different from the $250,000 that he asserted on the witness stand.
On April 7, 2009, on a motion by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Sullivan dismissed the case against Stevens.
Stevens was killed in a plane crash in Alaska along with seven others on August 9, 2010. On September 26, 2010, one of the prosecutors involved in the case hanged himself.
In November 2011, the investigation ordered by Sullivan was completed and, in a 500-page report, the investigators concluded that federal prosecutors in the Stevens case engaged in “significant, widespread and, at times, intentional misconduct.” The report recommended against seeking criminal charges.
— Maurice Possley