Sen. Ted Stevens prosecution poorly done, report states

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WASHINGTON (AP) - An investigation of the bungled criminal prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens has concluded that prosecutors never conducted a comprehensive review of material favorable to the senator.

Ted Stevens

A report released Thursday from a special counsel says agents of the FBI and Internal Revenue Service conducted an inadequate review of documents in the Stevens case.

The report says some of the agents were unfamiliar with the facts or were unfamiliar with legal requirements about turning over material to Stevens' legal team.

The investigation by special counsel Henry F. Schuelke III revealed that prosecutors also failed to review their own notes of witness interviews containing significant information that was never disclosed to lawyers for the senator.

"Not only was the ... review unsupervised, the prosecutors themselves were unsupervised," Schuelke's report said. Handwritten notes taken by prosecutors and two FBI agents during interviews with two key witnesses contained significant information that "was never disclosed to Senator Stevens' attorneys," Schuelke's report stated.

In response, Stevens' attorneys said the report "provides evidence of government corruption that is shocking in its boldness and its breadth."

"Corrupt prosecutors obtained an illegal verdict against Senator Stevens on October 27, 2008," they said in a statement. "As a result, a sitting senator lost certain re-election and the balance of power shifted in the United States Senate."

A jury convicted Stevens in October 2008 of seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure documents to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in home renovations and gifts from wealthy friends, including a massage chair, a stained-glass window and an expensive sculpture.

A few days later, Stevens lost re-election to the seat he'd held for 40 years, making him the longest-serving Republican in the Senate at the time.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the conviction in April 2009 after the Justice Department admitted misconduct in the case.

Stevens died in a plane crash on August 9, 2010.

The judge ordered Schuelke's 2 ½ year criminal investigation, saying he had never seen such misconduct in 25 years on the bench. However, Schuelke did not recommend criminal contempt charges because the judge never issued a direct order spelling out the rules of evidence.

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