A federal grand jury in Detroit is investigating a former senior assistant U.S. attorney for his handling of the first terrorism trial resulting from government investigations of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Detroit Free Press reports. It’s the first signal that criminal charges could come from the prosecution’s conduct in a 2003 trial that led to convictions but embarrassed the U.S. Justice Department when a judge dismissed the charges a year later because prosecutors withheld evidence, preventing a fair trial.
The grand jury is investigating former lead prosecutor Richard Convertino, 44, whose conduct was criticized by the judge after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit discovered problems with the case and asked for the charges to be dismissed. Convertino, who resigned this year to go into private practice, has denied any wrongdoing. Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity section began subpoenaing witnesses to appear before the grand jury in mid-October. In the original case, Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi and Karim Koubriti, both of Morocco, were convicted in June 2003 of conspiring to support terrorists. U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen dismissed the charges last year, agreeing that prosecutors withheld key evidence from defense lawyers and allowed witnesses to mislead the jury.