FBI whistleblower alleges misconduct in Feds' Alaska corruption probe

Amanda CoyneThe New York Times

The whistleblower revealed in a complaint made public Monday by a federal judge that the corruption probe has at times been run much like Alaska at its most corrupt: Inappropriate relationships with key witnesses, reporters and others; exchanges of inside FBI information with witnesses; gifts and artwork allegedly given to an FBI agent by a witness or source. Along the way, evidence and witnesses were mishandled and suppressed, all of which, if true, could have impacted Stevens' right to a fair trial.

In response to the complaint Monday, Stevens' lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss his indictment or rule for a new trial. Stevens was convicted in late October for failing to report on his Senate disclosure forms more than $250,000 of gifts and renovations to his Girdwood house from former VECO owner Bill Allen and other friends. Stevens subsequently lost his bid for re-election to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, an abrupt end to his 40-year Senate career, the longest of any Republican in history.

The identity of the FBI agent alleging the misconduct is not revealed in the redacted complaint. Names are blacked-out, and so are pronouns and any direct information about the identities of the whistleblower and the agent he or she claims is at the center of much of the misconduct.

But the whistleblower gives one clue about who he or she might be. The whistleblower says his or her name appears in a book written this year presumably by Frank Prewitt, a former private prison lobbyist who was an FBI source in the corruption probe. "Last Bridge to Nowhere" details Prewitt's inside knowledge of the corruption scandal. He spends considerable time writing about FBI special agents Chad Joy and Mary Beth Kepner.

Here are some of the acts the whistleblower agent alleges against another agent he or she worked with on "Polar Pen," which, according to the complaint, is the code name for Alaska's political corruption investigation:

--The FBI agent in question is accused of unnecessarily disclosing information about the agency's internal workings to Bill Allen and possibly other sources, at times over dinner at one or more of the agents' sources houses. The agent generally acted "inappropriate" with as many as six sources, including Allen, as well as members of the media, according to the allegations.

--The agent allegedly met with Allen at his hotel room in Washington, D.C., during Stevens' trial. The rest of the allegation is blacked out, but the whistleblower says he or she told the agent "to not do that again," and the agent "ignored me." The whistleblower also claims the agent wore something (the complaint doesn't say if it was clothing, jewelry, perfume, or something else) during the trial as a "surprise/present for Allen," who was there to testify against the senator.

--The agent allegedly accepted a drawing that had something to do with a dog, which now hangs on a wall at this agent's house. The agent allegedly purchased a house with the help of a real estate agent somehow related to one of the agent's sources.

--This agent allegedly kept Allen up to date with the status of an ongoing Anchorage Police investigation involving Allen. As of a month ago, Allen was under investigation by police over allegations that he had sex numerous times with an underage prostitute eight years ago (there's no statute of limitations in Alaska for sexual abuse crimes involving minors).

Perhaps most damning are allegations that the FBI agent and federal prosecutors withheld evidence from Ted Stevens' lawyers during his trial. The complaint also alleges that the agent and possibly prosecutors deceived the judge and Stevens lawyers when they "inappropriately created [a] scheme to relocate [a] prosecution witness that was also subpoenaed by defense during trial."

This allegedly involved sending Rocky Williams, a former VECO employee who worked on Stevens' house, back to Alaska during the trial in Washington, D.C., after the prosecution decided not to use him as a witness and before the defense could interview him.

When Stevens' lawyers heard about it, they asked for a mistrial. William Welch, the head of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, wrote to the judge that nothing foul was afoot in sending Williams home, going so far as to accuse Stevens lawyers of using a "win-at-all-cost" strategy. He denied that the government engaged in "any type of deception."