Stevens’ Lawyers Again Ask for Dismissal

Posted October 18, 2008 at 2:59pm

Lawyers for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) asked a federal judge Saturday to dismiss the criminal charges against the Senator on the grounds that the government knowingly provided false evidence to the grand jury that indicted him. The motion is the fifth time since the trial began Sept. 25 that Stevens’ legal team has requested a dismissal based on the government’s mishandling of evidence. While these motions have all been denied, the judge has repeatedly sanctioned the prosecution for failing to hand over exculpatory evidence, and for presenting evidence that the government knew was false. Stevens stands accused of failing to report on his annual financial disclosure forms tens of thousands of dollars worth of renovations that were performed at his Girdwood, Alaska, home by employees of VECO oil services company and its CEO, Bill Allen. The government presented at trial billing records indicating that VECO has spent at least $188,000 on labor and materials for the remodeling at Stevens’ house, but the company never sent him a bill and Stevens never paid Allen or VECO for the work. But one of the VECO employees whose time sheets were included in those billing records admitted to the grand jury that he was out of the state and not working at the Stevens home for several months when the VECO time sheets indicate that he was there. When the defense discovered this testimony, they moved for a mistrial. Judge Emmet Sullivan berated the prosecutor for presenting false evidence. “The government knew the documents were lies,” the judge said. “It’s very troubling that the government would utilize records that the government knows were false.” The judge did not dismiss the case, but ruled that evidence of the billing records would be stricken from the trial record. Today the defense argued that the case against Stevens should be dismissed because the same false evidence was presented to the Washington, D.C., grand jury that issued the indictment. Stevens’ defense team explains that the employee told an Alaska grand jury in November 2006 that he had been absent from the Girdwood home for several months, but he was not called as a witness before the Washington, D.C., grand jury in April 2007. A second VECO employee told the Alaska grand jury that he had been at the Stevens home about 24 to 30 hours a week, but the VECO billing records indicate he was there 60 to 70 hours per week. He was not called to testify in Washington either. Instead, an FBI agent summarized the VECO billing records for the Washington jurors, using the records as the basis for the allegation that Stevens accepted at least $188,000 worth of home repairs, and indicating that both employees were at the site “on a continuing basis,” according to the defense motion. “Knowingly presenting false testimony to the grand jury is conduct fatal to the indictment and inconsistent with the liberties and due process rights the government is entrusted to safeguard,” the defense wrote Saturday. “The grand jury indictment in this case suffers from fatal constitutional error … [and] should be dismissed.” The government has not yet issued a reply.