The federal government has spent nearly $1.8 million defending prosecutors from allegations they broke the law in the botched corruption case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, reports USA Today. The case fell apart three years ago when the Justice Department admitted its attorneys had improperly concealed evidence that could have helped his defense. A court-ordered investigation concluded that prosecutors had engaged in “significant, widespread, and at times intentional misconduct,” but that they should not face criminal contempt-of-court charges.
Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that Justice has paid about $1.6 million since 2009 to private lawyers representing the six prosecutors targeted by that court investigation. It also paid $208,000 to defend three prosecutors from a finding hey had committed civil contempt of court. “Unfortunately, it’s the taxpayers who are losing twice,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “First, the Justice Department committed serious legal errors and ethical missteps in its taxpayer-funded investigation and trial against Sen. Stevens. And second, this is an unseemly high amount of money being spent by the taxpayers to defend what appears to be egregious misconduct.” Stevens died in 2010.