As the Justice Department prepares its official response to the FBI whistle-blower complaint that surfaced in the case of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, people with first-hand knowledge of some of its issues, including some named in the complaint, say it represents overblown concerns of an inexperienced agent.
The unusual complaint was brought by FBI agent Chad Joy, one of the key investigators in the five-year-old federal inquiry into corruption in Alaska politics. He accused the lead agent in the broad investigation and several prosecutors in the Stevens case of wrongdoing.
One former confidential source in the corruption investigation took issue with some of the facts alleged in the complaint by Joy. The source, Frank Prewitt, a former state corrections commissioner, said in an interview recently that he never observed FBI case agent Mary Beth Kepner, the chief target of the complaint, cross the line into improper or unethical conduct.
And the retired second-in-command of the Anchorage FBI office, Robert Burnham, described Kepner as a top-notch, creative investigator. Joy, her co-case agent turned antagonist, was meticulous with numbers but inexperienced and uncomfortable with the discretion that agents in the field sometimes need, Burnham said.
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The opinions of Prewitt and Burnham contrast sharply with those of lawyers representing Stevens, the former Alaska senator who was convicted of seven felony disclosure crimes in October in a case investigated by Kepner, Joy and others. Stevens' attorneys cite Joy's complaint as evidence of government misconduct. They are using the complaint in their efforts to win a new trial or outright dismissal of charges against Stevens.
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