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NPR: Holder to Abandon Stevens Case

Somewhere, Marcia Clark is pouring prosecutors on the Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) case a drink.

NPR is reporting this morning that the Justice Department plans to drop what once looked like an open-and-shut case against the case against the longest-serving Republican senator in history.

Things looked bleak for Stevens when a federal indictment dropped in July. Prosecutors alleged that Stevens had failed to disclose $250,000 worth of gifts from a campaign contributor, Veco Corp., on his Senate disclosure forms. The case was straightforward: witnesses (including Stevens himself) said that Veco, an oil services firm with no background in home remodeling, had overseen an overhaul of the senator’s private residence in Girdwood, Alaska. Stevens claimed he paid all the bills Veco sent him. The jury didn’t buy it.

Stevens’ attorneys appealed the case on a number of grounds, including prosecutorial misconduct. Attorney General Eric Holder is supposedly livid at what appears to be, at least, clear-cut mismanagement by prosecutors. For example, in February, five months after Stevens’ conviction, Judge Emmett Sullivan held prosecutors in contempt when he discovered they had not handed over important information to the defense. The Justice Department replaced its legal team after the accusations surfaced.

There were other twists and turns in the trial, including allegations that an FBI agent on the case had an affair with a witness. Though an embarrassing story for the Justice Department, withholding evidence from the defense was technically worse, apparently.

NPR reports that Holder has taken into consideration Stevens’ age (he’s 85-years-old), and the fact that he’s no longer in office. We’ll be waiting for further announcements from the Justice Department.

Update: TPMMuckraker has Holder’s statement on the decision here.

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