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FBI whistleblower alleges Stevens trial misconduct

Richard Mauer

An Alaska FBI agent has accused fellow agents and at least one prosecutor of misconduct and unethical behavior in the public corruption investigation in Alaska and the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

The agent's complaint to internal investigators in the Justice Department was made public Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by the judge in Stevens' case.

The complaint had sharp words about one supervising agent, accused of getting too close to sources, including Allen. It said agents took gifts and accepted favors from sources and revealed confidential grand jury information and investigative practices to sources and reporters.

And the complaint said that prosecutors deliberately withheld and covered up evidence favorable to Stevens during his month-long trial, contradicting their statements to the judge at the time that their errors in not producing material to Stevens were accidental.

The judge, who said he wanted to protect the privacy of the complainant and those who were named, covered up almost all identifying details in heavy black ink, making some allegations difficult to follow.

But the agent who produced the explosive eight-page complaint, drafted in November, was clearly someone with intimate knowledge of the government's investigation in Alaska and the preparation and conduct of its trial of Stevens.

"I have witnessed or learned of serious violations of policy, rules, and procedures as well as possible criminal violations," the whistle-blower asserted in the complaint, which is now before the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility.

The whistle-blowing agent ran at least one of the sources in the investigation who gave grand jury testimony. And the whistle-blower described being in the room on Aug. 30, 2006, when agents were convincing the man who would become their most important witness, former Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen, to cooperate in the investigation.

In releasing the complaint, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan made good on a pledge he made in an order Friday following a closed-door hearing with prosecutors, the defense, and the whistle-blower's attorney.

Prosecutors and the whistle-blower sought to keep the document under seal. The defense asked for its release.

Sullivan said the document was too important for the public and the defense to remain secret, though he acknowledged that some of the people named in the complaint have a right to privacy -- at least for now.

In the order Monday that accompanied the redacted complaint, Sullivan said he would entertain a request by the defense to reveal more of the document.

Just 49 minutes after Sullivan put the complaint in the public docket, Stevens' attorneys cited it as the smoking gun in an 18-page motion to dismiss the case, or at least get a new trial.

The whistle-blower complaint "confirms what the defense has long believed and alleged: the government cheated and lied in order to obtain a verdict against Sen. Ted Stevens," attorney Robert Cary said in the motion.

"This has been a case of prosecution by any means necessary," Cary wrote. "The court should exercise its power to dismiss this indictment."

David Heller, a spokesman for the FBI in Anchorage, referred questions to the Justice Department in Washington. There, a spokeswoman, Laura Sweeney, said the government would only address the matter in court.

"We will continue to litigate in the court all matters, including these allegations, related to the jury's conviction of Senator Ted Stevens," she said in an e-mail.

In his complaint, the whistle-blower described himself as a five-year agent who started working on the public corruption investigation shortly after he came to Anchorage.

The case was code-named "Polar Pen" because it began as an investigation of efforts to build a private prison in Alaska by a private joint venture that included Veco.

But the FBI focus shifted after agents tapped Allen's phones and heard him talking about the extensive remodeling and repair work Veco did on Stevens' home in Girdwood starting in 1989. Then, a hidden FBI camera in the Veco suite in Juneau caught Allen and a vice president bribing legislators with $100 bills.

Stevens was convicted in October of lying on his Senate financial disclosures by failing to report gifts from Veco, Allen and others. Allen, who has pleaded guilty to bribery, was the lead witness against Stevens and two legislators convicted in 2007.

Allen has testified that he agreed to work for the government on Aug. 30, 2006 -- one day before the investigation became public with a series of raids of legislative and business offices in Alaska. The whistle-blower said that the agent working on Allen revealed far too much information about other subjects of the investigation.

Later, with Allen on their team, an agent -- possibly the same one -- told Allen that a source being run by the whistle-blower had testified before a grand jury, a possible violation of federal law. The whistle-blower said Allen or his attorney were also tipped off about an unrelated Anchorage Police investigation of him, probably involving accusations reported earlier this year that he had sexual relations with a minor in the 1990s.

During the Stevens trial, the agent inappropriately met with Allen in a hotel room more than once, the whistle-blower said. During Allen's testimony, the agent dressed in a way that was meant to be a "surprise/present for Allen," the whistle-blower said.

A witness issue erupted during the trial when the government sent home the Veco supervisor at Stevens' home, Rocky Williams, without calling him to the stand. Prosecutors said he was too ill to testify. But Williams was also under subpoena as a defense witness, and the defense team didn't know Williams was back in Alaska until he called from home. That led to a loud objection from Stevens' lawyers and a stern lecture from the judge.

The whistle-blower agreed that Williams was ill and feared that Williams could die in Washington if not treated. But the whistle-blower said the prosecution team ignored his pleas that the defense and the judge be told of the plan to send Williams home.

"The defense and judge found out, were very angry, and suggested prosecutorial misconduct had occurred," the whistle-blower wrote.

The whistle-blower also said that someone from the prosecution team didn't want to send a complete copy of an FBI interview of Allen to the defense because it contradicted information sent earlier in a letter to the lawyers.

The whistle-blower said he initially brought his complaints directly to the agent or agents, and also to Eric Gonzalez, the chief division counsel to the FBI in Anchorage, but the problems were not solved, he said.

He decided to take his complaint to Washington after one of the FBI sources, former Alaska corrections official Frank Prewitt, wrote a self-published book about the investigation that contained information he "should not have known." Another book is being written in prison by one of the people convicted in the case, the whistle-blower said, "and I feared more problems would occur and I would be in the middle of [an agent's] problems again."

The whistle-blower said he was also upset by what happened during Stevens' trial.

On Nov. 21, he wrote, he asked for protection under federal law as a whistle-blower, fearing he would be punished for coming forward. FBI officials, from the Public Corruption Unit in Washington "to the highest levels" are extremely pleased about the Alaska investigation.

"I am concerned about possible retaliation," the whistle-blower wrote.

Find Richard Mauer online at adn.com/contact/rmauer or call 257-4345.

Alaska Politics blog: Video
By RICHARD MAUER
rmauer@adn.com