By Jordy Yager - 03/15/12 04:22 PM EDT
Federal prosecutors hid evidence from lawyers of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that would have helped prove his innocence, according to a 500-page report by a special counsel released Thursday.
The extensive report by Henry Schuelke III comes more than two years after Attorney General Eric Holder set aside Stevens’s guilty verdict and pressed for a review of the case that brought about the downfall of the longest-serving Republican senator.
The report found that the attorneys prosecuting Stevens did not conduct a comprehensive review of the evidence against the senator, including their own interviews with witnesses.
“The investigation and prosecution of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens were permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Sen. Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness,” Schuelke’s report reads.
Holder told lawmakers at a recent hearing that he found the report’s initial findings “disturbing” and emphasized that he has implemented a series of changes in the Public Integrity Section, which oversees public corruption cases. To his knowledge, Holder said that none of the remaining attorneys involved in the case have been fired from Justice.
Stevens, who was killed in a plane crash in 2010, was convicted in 2008 on seven counts of not reporting thousands of dollars of gifts given in the form of renovations to his Alaska home. The senator maintained his innocence throughout the high-profile trial, which ultimately led to him losing his election race one month later.
Stevens would have retained his Senate seat if the government’s prosecutors had revealed all of their evidence against him, the late lawmaker’s lawyers said on Thursday following the release of the report.