Judge Rejects Motion to Toss Stevens Case

Posted October 2, 2008 at 4:40pm

Updated: 6:10 p.m.

The judge in the criminal trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) refused a defense motion on Thursday to dismiss the case against the Senator after the prosecution admitted that it had failed to provide Stevens’ lawyer with evidence that could have aided his defense.

Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered a status hearing for Monday morning as the next step, with the trial tentatively expected to begin after that. However, Sullivan appeared to be inclined to grant the defense some additional time before restarting the trial, if requested.

Defense attorney Brendan Sullivan demanded Thursday morning that the judge declare a mistrial, announcing that the government had turned over to him late Wednesday night an FBI summary of an interview in which star prosecution witness Bill Allen suggested that if he had sent bills to Stevens for the renovations of his home, Stevens would have paid them.

Stevens is charged with seven counts of filing false statements over an eight-year period to conceal the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts — primarily in the form of renovations to his home in Girdwood, Alaska — from the now-defunct oil-services firm VECO and its executives, including Allen, the company’s chief executive officer, who began testifying on Tuesday.

The defense contends Stevens paid the bills that workers on the project sent to his wife, but the couple did not know what additional work Allen was providing at the house because he did not provide bills for that work despite Stevens’ request that he do so.

Having the interview notes prior to the beginning of the trial and prior to the start of Allen’s testimony on Tuesday would have dramatically changed the defense strategy, Stevens’ lawyers contended.

The government admitted that it should have turned over the documents to Stevens’ defense team earlier, but argued that it was a simple oversight that did not hamper the Senator’s defense.