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Judge Orders Probe of Attorneys in Stevens Case

A federal judge has dismissed corruption charges against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and opened a criminal investigation into prosecutors who mishandled the case. Video by AP

Sullivan asked Holder to better train prosecutors in how to handle evidence and witness statements that may be helpful to defendants.

He identified those being investigated for potential contempt violations as four lawyers with the public integrity section: William Welch II, who heads the unit; Brenda Morris, the lead prosecutor on the Stevens case; Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan; and two federal prosecutors from Alaska, Joseph W. Bottini and James Goeke.

To investigate the allegations, Sullivan appointed Henry F. Schuelke III, a former federal prosecutor who the judge said is known for his "fairness, integrity and sound judgment." Schuelke declined to comment.

Under Sullivan's order, Schuelke will review records and e-mail and will interview prosecutors, FBI agents and key witnesses. He will then recommend whether any prosecutors should be tried on charges of intentionally violating Sullivan's orders or rules on handling evidence. The judge could hold a trial in which Schuelke acts as the prosecutor.

Much of yesterday's hearing focused on what transpired during an interview on April 15, 2008, with the key witness, Bill Allen, a close friend of Stevens who is the former chief executive of Veco, a now-defunct oil services company.

During the interview, according to the notes taken by two prosecutors, Allen said he did not recall talking to a friend of Stevens about sending the senator a bill for work done on the house in Alaska, the judge and prosecutors have said.

Under oath at trial, however, Allen testified that the friend told him to ignore a note Stevens sent seeking a bill for the remodeling.

"Bill, don't worry about getting a bill" for Stevens, Allen said the friend told him. "Ted is just covering his [expletive]."

That testimony buttressed prosecutors' arguments that Stevens knew he was receiving gifts and was trying to create a paper trail. But defense attorneys have argued that Allen lied on the stand and that prosecutors allowed it to happen.

"It is clear from the evidence that the government engaged in intentional misconduct," Brendan Sullivan, Stevens's lead attorney, told the judge.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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