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January 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Latest Bomb in Stevens Case: Judge Accuses Government of Misleading Him and Orders Atty. Gen. Mukasey to Sign Declaration Under Oath and Turn Over Documents

By Allan Lengel

In the latest explosive turn, the federal judge in the former Sen. Ted Stevens trial on Wednesday accused the government of misleading him about an FBI agent who filed a complaint about government misconduct in the case.
U.S District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan , in court papers filed Wednesday in Washington, essentially accused the government of misleading him about the “whistle blower status” of the agent Chad Joy, to prevent or limit the agent’s complaints from being made public and to keep his identity under wraps as long as possible.
Sullivan  (in photo) ordered Atty. General Michael Mukasey to turn over by Friday all relevant documents pertaining to Joy’s whistleblower status.
Stevens was convicted in October, but has asked for a new trial or that the case be dismissed based on allegations of government misconduct.
Agent Chad Joy’s name was first revealed Wednesday.  An investigator in the case, he has alleged government misconduct and has accused the lead FBI investigator Mary  Beth Kepner of having inappropriate relations with witnesses, using a source to help her husband get a job, leaking information about the case, accepting gifts from sources, meeting a government witness in her D.C. hotel room and disclosing to that witness the name of someone who testified before the grand jury.
According to the judge’s court papers, on Dec. 11, the government filed a motion to seal a “self-styled whistleblower” complaint it had received agent Chad Joy in the Stevens case. The defense soon objected to the document being sealed.
The government countered, arguing “strenuously” that the FBI agent’s complaint should not be made public based on the agent’s whistleblower status and privacy considerations. Such status gives government employees certain protections when they come forward with information about wrongdoing.
The government also said making the complaint public would interfere with a probe into the matter by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility, the judge noted in his filing.
After a Dec. 19 hearing,the judge ordered the government to file the complaint with the court — minus the name of  agent Joy and others. The names, along with some other detailed information, were to be blacked out or “redacted”. A few days later, the document was made public, minus the names.
On Wednesday, according to the court papers, the government called the judge’s chambers and said it was difficult to respond to the defense motion for a new trial without mentioning names. It said it contacted government employees and they did not object to names being disclosed.
Then during questioning in court on Wednesday, the judge wrote, the government disclosed that “for the first time” agent Joy had been notified as early as Dec. 4, 2008 that he had not been afforded whistleblower status by the Inspector General.
In other words, the judge suggested, the government already knew that Joy was not going to get whistleblower status, yet it continued to use that as an excuse to keep as much as possible from being disclosed publicly.
Sullivan said he had made his previous decisions based on the “government’s repeated representations ” that agent Joy “had whistleblower status protection or that the status” was yet to be decided due to the ongoing investigation by the Justice internal watchdogs.
“Had this court known that the government had already legally determined that agent Joy was not entitled to whistleblower protection by the time it first filed the complaint under seal, the court would have proceeded differently,” Sullivan wrote.
He ordered Mukasey by Friday to  sign a declaration under oath and provide all relevant correspondence as to who knew about the complaint filed by agent Joy and when they knew it, plus all correspondences in Justice “related to Joy’s status as a whistleblower.”

Read Judge Sullivan’s Filing

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