Stevens’ Attorneys Target Indictment Language

Posted September 10, 2008 at 11:24am

Attorneys for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and government prosecutors sparred in federal court Wednesday.

Stevens is set to go on trial Sept. 22 for seven counts of filing false financial disclosures that failed to disclose the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts over an eight-year period. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

In a pretrial hearing, Stevens’ attorneys sought to remove language in the Senator’s indictment that states he allegedly received gifts during the same period he and his staff were solicited by the oil services firm VECO and its executives, arguing the statement is prejudicial.

“There’s nothing wrong with the behavior alleged in paragraph 17,” Stevens attorney Rob Cary said. “If this case is going to be about constituent solicitations, constituent service, we’re going to be here for a very long time.”

Asserting the government has not charged Stevens with bribery or other quid pro quo related offenses, Cary added: “They just want to suggest it and stink up the courtroom. It’s not right, your honor.”

Stevens’ attorneys asserted that unless the language is struck, it would need to be addressed and could add another week to the trial’s length.

But federal prosecutor Nicholas Marsh defended the language, arguing it is key to proving Stevens’ intent in filing false statements.

“He’s not doing one for the other. … At the same time, he knows he’s getting benefits,” Marsh said.

Stevens waived his appearance and was not in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday.

Judge Emmet Sullivan has yet to issue a ruling in the ongoing hearing.

He did, however, defer judgment on a separate government motion to exclude the criminal records of several defendants, stating those questions could be addressed during the course of the trial.

Sullivan also approved a request by Stevens’ attorneys to file additional motions as the court date nears, rather than imposing a cut-off.

“It doesn’t mean I’m opening the floodgate of motions,” Sullivan said.