The Justice Department has filed motions to release two former Alaska politicians from jail amid suspicion that prosecutors and Justice Department officials who worked on the case of Sen. Ted Stevens may have also withheld evidence during the trial of these two men as well.
The Justice Department has been conducting an internal review of how the prosecutors on the Stevens case acted and carried out their duties and it appears other cases may have been unfairly pursued by the Justice Department prosecutors.
The men, Viktor Kohring, a former state representative, and Peter Kott, a former Alaska house speaker, have been appealing their cases, especially after the debacle of the Stevens case being dismissed.
The case against Stevens and other public corruption investigations gained momentum in May 2007 after two top executives with VECO, an Alaska oil services company -- CEO Bill Allen and former vice president of community affairs and government relations Richard Smith -- pleaded guilty to shuttling more than $400,000 to various elected officials in Alaska.
Last September, Kott was convicted by a jury on public corruption charges for accepting funds to use his official position to benefit the company.
The Justice Department motions filed today in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals note that "the process has uncovered material that, at this stage, appears to be information that should have been, but was not, disclosed to Appellant [Kott] and before his trial."
Kohring was found guilty of bribery, conspiracy and extortion in 2007 and was sentenced to 42 months in prison May 8, 2008.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement, "After a careful review of these cases, I have determined that it appears that the Department did not provide information that should have been disclosed to the defense. ... Department of Justice prosecutors work hard every day and perform a great service for the American people. But the Department's mission is to do justice, not just win cases, and when we make mistakes, it is our duty to admit and correct those mistakes. We are committed to doing that."
The Justice Department attorneys who were involved in these cases were Nicholas Marsh from Justice Department headquarters and James Goeke and Joseph Bottini from the U.S. attorney's office in Alaska.
In connection with the Stevens case, which was dismissed April 1, 2009, there have been internal FBI reviews under way on whether the agents on the case acted improperly, and reviews by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility into the actions of the prosecutors on the case.
An FBI whistleblower lawsuit began to reveal many of the problems with the Stevens case and possibly other cases in Alaska. The whistleblower, agent Chad Joy, has alleged the lead agent on the cases, Mary Beth Kepner, had an inappropriate relationship with the government's star witness in the case and that she disclosed investigative details to people possibly under investigation in Alaska linked to the Stevens probe.
The FBI in Alaska did not return calls seeking comment on the accusations against Kepner.
Joy also has alleged misconduct by prosecutors, including allegations that Marsh did not even turn over boxes of evidence in the Stevens case to the FBI to be properly entered into evidence databases.