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More Legal Problems For Justice Dept. At Stevens' Trial

More legal fireworks at the Ted Stevens trial today. Judge Emmet Sullivan berated federal prosecutors for knowingly introducing documents that it would knew were false to bolster its argument that the Alaska Republican accepted more than $250,000 in improper gifts without disclosing them on his annual reports.

At issue on Wednesday was whether Judge Sullivan should throw out records from VECO Corp., an Alaska oil-services company, showing its employees did extensive work renovating Stevens' home in Girdwood, Alaska. Bill Allen, the former CEO of VECO, has testified against Stevens in this case.

Dave Anderson, a VECO employee, was listed in the company's records as having spent several months in late 2000 working on Stevens' home when Anderson actually told a grand jury - with at least one of the current prosecutors in this case present - that he was actually in Portland, Ore. Prosecutors allege that Allen, through VECO, spent $188,000 for the work at Stevens' home.

Stevens' attorneys are seeking dismissal of the charges or a mistrial, arguing that prosecutors have repeatedly withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.

A VECO accountant has already testified about the records, and Stevens' attorneys claim that if they had Anderson's grand-jury records before her appearance, they would have been able to impeach that testimony.

Judge Sullivan was clearly upset that they government presented the VECO records knowing they were, at least partly, inaccurate.

"We're talking about the United States using records that are false, and not telling anyone," Judge Sullivan said, repeartedly banging his fist on his desk. "Why did you do it? I want an answer."

Judge Sullivan added: "The government knew the documents were lies."

Nicholas Marsh, the prosecutor who attended Anderson's grand-jury appearance, argued that the government did not recall what Anderson said when he testified. Marsh also claimed that the revelation was not important for the case since prosecutors had presented testimony from other VECO employees who allegedly worked on Stevens' home who were not included in the company's records.

"We just looked at these in a different light," Marsh said.

Prosecutors, though, had to undergo sharp questioning from Judge Sullivan, who is deciding know whether to exclude all the VECO internal records from the case.
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