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Federal judge overturns ex-senator Stevens conviction, orders prosecutors investigated

[JURIST] A judge from the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Tuesday granted a government motion [text, PDF] to set aside the conviction of former senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) [US Congress backgrounder] on corruption charges. The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed the motion last week asking the court to set aside Stevens' October 2008 conviction and dismiss the indictment against him after admitting [JURIST reports] that it had failed to disclose relevant information to the defense in preparation for the trial. Calling the prosecution's behavior the worst "mishandling or misconduct" that he'd seen in his career, District Judge Emmet Sullivan appointed Washington lawyer Henry Schuelke III [professional profile] to investigate possible criminal contempt charges against the prosecutors, who had been found in contempt of court in February.

Stevens was convicted [JURIST report] in October on seven counts of making false statements relating to an alleged corruption scheme and for falsifying his Financial Disclosure Forms. Following his conviction, Stevens lost his re-election bid in November to Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) [official profile]. Stevens was charged [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] with accepting approximately $250,000 in gifts over an eight-year period from the founder of oil services and engineering company VECO Corp. [corporate website]. In 2007, former prosecutor Richard Convertino [JURIST news archive] was found not guilty [JURIST report] on obstruction charges brought by the DOJ [JURIST report] after a federal judge overturned [JURIST report] the guilty verdict in two terrorism cases due to prosecutorial misconduct.

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