by Brian Mahany
Our firm began with the defense of several high profile individuals. We defend and protect the liberty of those charged with with white collar crimes including tax evasion and money laundering. Being charged with a felony is a life changing event for most people. To make sure everyone receives a fair trial, the public demands that prosecutors to be fair and unbiased. When the government withholds evidence, everyone loses including society.
In 2008, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted of federal corruption charges. He was narrowly defeated for reelection just8 days later. In addition to having been one of the longest serving senators in U.S. history – he served 40 years – his defeat helped the Democrats hold the Senate. Shortly after his conviction and election loss, the indictment was tossed after an internal probe found gross prosecutorial misconduct.
The actions of a few public officials, prosecutors with the Department of Justice, directly affected Stevens election defeat and the balance of power in Congress. This post isn’t about Democratic or Republican politics, it is about the misuse of power by federal officials.
Both the court and Justice Department conducted their own investigations. A court appointed investigator concluded that prosecutors withheld witness statements from Stevens defense team and allowed false testimony to be presented during the trial. A separate internal ethics probe by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Investigation found misconduct as well.
The findings of DOJ’s probe were just released. Among the many missteps by the trial team was failing to disclose that their star witness had a sexual relationship with a child.
So what is the result of these investigations? One prosecutor faces a 40 day suspension without pay and the other just a 15 day suspension. A third prosecutor committed suicide during the investigation. Although the indictment against Stevens was dismissed – after he lost the election – Stevens is not around to enjoy the findings of the DOJ’s internal investigation. He died in a plance crash on his way to a fishing lodge. Given the slap on the wrist received by both prosecutors, it is probably better that he didn’t learn the results.
Allowing the DOJ to discipline corrupt prosecutors is liking a fox to guard the hen house. Although we believe that the investigators probably performed a thorough investigation, the public is not likely to have faith in the process. To say that wrongfully convicting a sitting U.S. Senator – or anyone for that matter – simply warrants a 15 day suspension is a hard conclusion to swallow.
The Stevens case garnered national publicity because it represented the prosecution of the longest serving Republican senator in history. Unfortunately, government misconduct occurs every day. We were involved in the defense of a businessman in Seattle, Washington. In that case, a senior U.S. District Court judge found the special agents conducting the investigation had engaged in misconduct. There behavior was so poor that none of them took the stand during the trial!
Misconduct by a few bad cops or prosecutors undermines the public’s confidence in the entire judicial system. When it occurs, justice should be swift and harsh. DOJ’s internal probe says the prosecutors in that case didn’t act intentionally. Assuming that is accurate, even negligence should not be tolerated. The correct punishment for allowing false testimony should be dismissal. Nothing short of that will restore public confidence.
If you are charged with a white collar crime, give us a call. We have the experience and know how to ferret out misconduct and all the evidence about your case. All inquiries are kept in strict confidence. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct).
Mahany & Ertl – Proudly Defending Justice. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine & Minneapolis, Minnesota. Services available in many jurisdictions.