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Oct. 22 2009 - 12:10 pm | 53 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

Some catharsis for those frustrated by Ted Stevens’ case


Image by Getty Images via Daylife

For those following the debacle of former Senator Ted Stevens’ prosecution, the big news today was that the head of the unit at the Justice Department who handled the case, stepped down, moving back to Massachusetts for “family reasons.

For those that diligently followed the Stevens’ investigation this is something of a catharsis. There were a lot of things that went wrong with the government’s case against Stevens. To refresh: there was a huge typo in the indictment; the Justice Department withholding of evidence in discovery (which led to it being excluded) and the affair the Justice staffer supposedly had with the government’s key witness. And that’s not even counting the other distractions in the trial, like the juror who skipped deliberations to head to a horse race in California.

But there’s one more, less publicized, bit of relief for those eager for justice to be served to those involved in Stevens’ shady dealings: the prosecution is finally asking for $750,000 fine and  46 months in prison for Bill Allen, their key witness in the case. This is exciting because, well, there’s been a fair amount of speculation about whether Allen would ever be sentenced.

Even though Allen was found guilty in 2007, he’s been jetting between Alaska and New Mexico, where  his son Mark owns a horse ranch (Mark was a co-owner of the horse who won the Kentucky Derby). While he did give the Justice Department almost a half-dozen corrupt local officials and provide the majority of the case against Ted Stevens, the sentence is still significantly less than the time given to those Allen brought down. Rep. Pete Kott got 6 years on far lesser offenses than Allen was convicted of, and the same goes for former Rep. Vic Kohring, who was sentenced to 42 months after accepting a couple thousand dollars in bribes from Allen.

Allen’s attorney’s are obviously arguing for a reduction in sentencing, but it seems to me that a mere 46-months isn’t quite enough for the man that brought down Alaska.


4 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    Unfortunately, your article is incomplete.

    Since August, both Kott and Kohring are free from prison pending a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals-directed review of the case by the U.S. District Court for Alaska. See Judge to decide what happens next with Kott and Kohring:


    There could very well be no prison time for anyone — even though federal disclosure documents, video and audio recordings made it quite clear these men engaged in wrongdoing.

    These corrupt officials will walk because ambitious, corrupt Republican-appointed DOJ officials couldn’t walk a straight line when handed straightforward evidence for trial.

    • collapse expand

      I was aware that Kohring and Kott were both free from prison, but my point (and maybe I didn’t word it perfectly) was that they had both had much higher sentences than Allen was offered, given their crimes.

      But the second point you make is a good one — though I’d hesitate to say that the DOJ officials who messed up this investigation were just GOP appointees, I think the mistakes had nothing to do with party, here — that it sucks that these guys are getting off scot-free because of DOJ incompetence.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Although I write about wayward prosecutors on my own T/S blog, I don’t pretend to know the whole truth about the Stevens prosecution. What I do know is that even if bringing valid charges against a guilty U.S. senator, some members of the prosecution team suffered from hubris or incompetence or maybe both.

    It is time for legislators to rewrite laws so that it easier to punish prosecutors for misconduct, and time for judges to scold prosecutors publicly when the oath of “achieving justice” is violated. Prosecutors deserve to receive protection from retaliatory litigation filed by defendants. But case after case demonstrates that absolute prosecutorial immunity–the current standard– is bad policy.

  3. collapse expand

    Why can we not retry Stevens? I was horribly disgusted when the whole senate gave the man a standing ovation. I want all people who applauded this man out of office.

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    About Me

    While working at Talking Points Memo Muckraker during the 2008 Election, I covered the Justice Department politicization, voting rights law and the insanity of Alaska politics. I loved the beat which was somewhere between the wonky side of politics and the law. The realization was enough to send me off to law school in D.C. -- which seems to be a perfect combination of both.

    Though I've covered everything from birth control to blenders in my few years in journalism, this blog will be a compilation of stories related to the Supreme Court, federal courts, and the law generally. With an occasional story about Sarah Palin or Ted Stevens thrown in for good measure.

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    Contributor Since: March 2009