Late last year, Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted on seven felony counts of making false statements on his personal financial disclosures. The octagenarian had received numerous gifts from an oil services company executive, including a full remodeling of his “chalet,” a modest house in Girdwood, Alaska. Stevens wasn’t helped in his trial by his cantakerous appearance on the stand and was not only convicted, but subsequently lost reelection, despite having nearly everything in Alaska named after him. Unless this is some cruel April Fool’s joke, Stevens is in for some good news:
The Justice Department on Wednesday asked a federal judge to drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
In a move first reported by NPR, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.
“After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial,” Holder said in a statement Wednesday. “In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”
With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. His decision is said to be based on Stevens’ age — he’s 85 — and the fact that Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.
I’ll have to admit that while this is somewhat shocking, it isn’t that much of a surprise. The prosecution was a disaster during the case and, if Stevens had not taken the stand and impugned his own integrity, I couldn’t imagine a jury going along with such a terrible prosecution. Apparently this has been a serious problem at Justice over the past few years and this is Attorney General Holder putting his foot down.