As a trial judge in Washington, D.C., weighs how much of a new 500-page report about the misconduct of Justice Department attorneys should be made public, the most notorious witness from the flawed corruption case against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens wants an advance peek.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered a full copy to be given to Bill Allen and his attorneys -- but only after they sign a confidentiality agreement. Four days before Christmas, Allen asked to intervene in the proceedings, seeking permission to submit comments or facts after having an opportunity to review the findings.
Allen was the government's key witness against Stevens and several Alaska lawmakers prosecuted on corruption charges. Rumors about his sexual relationships with underage women, though not raised before the juries, persistently surfaced in private discussions between the court and the attorneys. Defense attorneys wanted to know if Allen avoided criminal prosecution on sex charges in exchange for cooperating in the corruption trials. Even if he didn't, they wanted the opportunity to bring those relationships up at trial to discredit him.
Allen was the key witness in the feds' sweeping oil-political corruption investigation. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to bribing members of the Alaska Legislature, testfying in the corruption trials of former state Reps. Pete and Vic Kohring. In 2008, Allen testified against Stevens, claiming he provided thousands of dollars in renovations to the senator's Girdwood home, which Stevens failed to note in his Senate disclosure statements. Allen has since served out his three-year sentence and was released from prison last month.
During the Stevens trial, Judge Sullivan found that "there were serious allegations and confirmed instances of prosecutorial misconduct that called into question the integrity of the criminal proceedings." For this reason he called in a special prosecutor to further scrutinize the government's behavior. That investigation found that the trial was "permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated his [Stevens'] defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”
The government attorneys won't face criminal contempt charges. Henry Schuelke III, the special prosecutor brought in by Sullivan, found they didn’t' violate any direct orders. But it's possible the attorneys could be charged with obstruction of justice.
Allen and his attorneys are supposed to speak with Schuelke's office Wednesday to make arrangements to get the report.
Meanwhile, as the timeline for reviewing the material closes in, attorneys representing five of the six federal prosecutors who participated in the trial -- all under investigation for misconduct -- have formally notified the court they are representing their respective clients. The Department of Justice has until Jan. 6 to tell the court which, if any, of the findings it objects to and whether it believes any of the material should remain hidden from public view.
Contact Jill Burke at jill(at)alaskadispatch.com