A federal judge this afternoon is scheduled to release a whistleblower complaint in which a federal employee alleges misconduct among a law enforcement officer and prosecution team members during the investigation of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan revealed the substance of the complaint publicly for the first time in an opinion published Friday night about whether to release the document to the public. Justice Department lawyers had been arguing in closed sessions to block the release of the complaint, which the government received Dec. 2. Stevens’ Williams & Connolly defense team unsuccessfully argued for the unredacted release of the complaint.
A law enforcement officer who worked closely on the investigation and trial is accused of improper conduct with key government witnesses, according to a synopsis of the complaint that was included in Judge Sullivan's 29-page opinion last week. A federal employee working the case reportedly accepted “multiple things of value”—including artwork and employment for a relative—from sources cooperating with the investigation.
The complainant, a federal employee with “extensive knowledge of the investigation and trial in this case,” according to Judge Sullivan, also alleges that a member of the prosecution team schemed to relocate a witness to keep him from testifying and also intentionally withheld evidence from the defense lawyers. Judge Sullivan said the complainant is not a "stranger" to the proceedings and was "significantly" involved in the investigation and prosecution.
The redacted complaint will not include the person’s name and will not identify federal investigators and members of the prosecution team who are named in the complaint. Judge Sullivan said the redactions are being made in the privacy interests of the whistleblower, who has retained counsel. But those privacy interests, the judge wrote, do not trump Stevens' right to challenge his conviction with exculpatory evidence provided in the complaint.
Stevens’ lawyers at Williams & Connolly unsuccessfully argued last week for the release of an unredacted complaint. Judge Sullivan held two sealed conference calls and heard argument Friday in a court session closed to the public. Counsel for the government argued the whistleblower complaint does not impact the integrity of the trial or the verdicts.
The allegations in the complaint are under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, whose investigation could be tainted by the public disclosure of the complaint, according to unidentified government lawyers who are cited in Judge Sullivan's order. The complaint, according to government lawyers, is a “sensitive, internal matter with personal and professional implications for multiple civil servants who are entitled to due process and their administrative rights.”
Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, was convicted Oct. 27 on seven counts of filing false Senate financial disclosure forms. Stevens’ lawyers plan to argue in February a motion for a new trial. Judge Sullivan has not set a sentencing date.