AP source: Findings against 3 in Stevens case

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WASHINGTON - A draft Justice Department report has found that two federal prosecutors and an FBI agent engaged in misconduct in the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens, a lawyer familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The findings emerged from an investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility looking into the failure by prosecutors to turn over evidence favorable to defense lawyers in Stevens' corruption trial. The Alaska Republican died in a plane crash in August.

The lawyer said the draft report makes misconduct findings against prosecutors Joseph Bottini and James Goeke and FBI agent Mary Beth Kepner.

The lawyer spoke on condition of anonymity because the report is not final.

The failure to disclose exculpatory evidence as Supreme Court precedent requires was so serious that Attorney General Eric Holder stepped in and asked U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to throw out Stevens' convictions, which the judge did.

Kepner came under scrutiny after an FBI whistle-blower said Kepner had an inappropriate relationship with the star witness in the case.

Bottini's lawyer, Ken Wainstein, declined to comment.

Other Justice Department prosecutors involved in the case, including William Welch, who led the office that prosecuted Stevens, were not found to have engaged in misconduct.

National Public Radio first reported on the OPR probe.

Separately, the source said that an attorney brought in by Judge Sullivan, who presided over the Stevens trial, is trying to wrap up by year's end a parallel investigation of whether the prosecutors on the trial team should be held in criminal contempt of court.

The lawyer familiar with the matter said the attorney conducting the probe, Henry Schuelke, has not yet made a decision on whether to recommend charging anyone in the probe and has not made a decision on whether to issue a report on his findings.

In its story, NPR said Schuelke would not recommend that any of the government lawyers be referred for prosecution and had prepared a written report.

No report has been given to Judge Sullivan, his office said Tuesday.

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