Stevens has been charged with failing to report more than $250,000 in improper gifts that he received from 1999 to 2006, including extensive renovation work on his home in Girdwood, Alaska.
But the July 29 indictment of Stevens contains an error not noticed by prosecutors. The Justice Dept. said Stevens had failed to declare any gifts he received in 2001, which would be listed on his annual Senate financial disclosure report from filed in 2002.
The indictment specifically stated that Stevens had checked the "no" box on the form, when he had in fact checked "yes."
Stevens, however, declared receipt of an $1,100 commemorative coin from the Special Olympics during 2001.
The jury, which just restarted deliberations in the case after Judge Emmet Sullivan replaced one of the jurors over the weekend, sent a note to Judge Sullivan seeking guidance on how to proceed.
Judge Sullivan, who is overseeing the trial, praised the jurors for their catch. "This jury is very perceptive. They aren't missing anything," hesaid.
Sullivan just told both sides that he will tell jurors that "an indictment is not evidence, merely a charging document," and that they must find "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Stevens is guilty on each of the seven counts that he is indicted on.
But the judge was clearly exasperated with the prosecutors for the problem, saying, "This is not a typographical [error]. Surely someone reads these indictments before they're acted on."
Stevens' attorneys jumped on the mistake, saying that the jury cannot convict Stevens on that count because of the error.
But Brenda Morris and Nicholas Marsh, the lead prosecutors, argued that it wasn't a major mistake, and they noted that other portions of the indictment spell out alleged unreported gifts that Stevens received in 2001, including completion of the home remodeling project. Much of that work was conducted by employees of VECO Corp., an Alaska oil-field services company. Stevens never declared any work by VECO employees on his home.