October 21st, 2009
05:25 PM ET
13 years ago

Justice Dept moves lawyer who guided Stevens prosecution

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The man who oversaw the flawed prosecution of corruption charges against former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska will leave his post at the Justice Department at the end of this week, a top official there announced Wednesday.

William Welch - who heads the Office of Public Integrity, which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting bribery and other public corruption cases - will leave Washington and become a federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

A federal judge harshly criticized the trial prosecutors for, among other things, failing to share certain evidence with the defense as required.

At the same time that U.S District Judge Emmet Sullivan set aside the conviction of Stevens in April, he initiated criminal contempt proceedings against Welch and the other government attorneys who prosecuted the 85-year-old Republican.

Sullivan appointed an independent, nongovernment attorney, Henry Schuelke III, to investigate. That investigation is still under way.

Despite the missteps, Breuer on Wednesday praised Welch and called his departure "a mutual decision."

"I think the world of him," Breuer said. "Bill and I have grown close, and we made a mutual decision. I think Bill believes it would be best for him on a personal level and best for the Criminal Division that, at this period of time, that he wants to go back to Boston where so much of his career was based."

The Office of Public Integrity, which Breuer described as "one of the great jewels of the Criminal Division," will be headed by an acting chief, Raymond Hulser, while the Justice Department conducts a nationwide search for a new chief to serve in the sensitive post.

Filed under: Ted Stevens
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. John Anthony Castro

    This makes sense. Anyone who enforces the law against the elites, i mean Senators, especially in this troubling economy where Senators will definitely need to rely on bribery, i mean campaign contributions, to sustain their standard of living, is guaranteed to lose their position.

    Good luck in Massachusetts Mr. Welch. Be happy your not in the military or else they would have sent you to an outpost in the North Pole. Well, Massachusetts CAN be as cold as the North Pole so maybe it is, in fact, analagous to the North Pole.

    October 21, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  2. RR

    The democrats owe this man big time. Without him, Stevens would have been re-elected, and the Democrats wouldn't have a filibuster proof majority in the senate.

    October 21, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |