Whistle-blower agent ID'd in Stevens case

WASHINGTON -- The FBI agent who complained about misconduct and unethical behavior in the investigation and prosecution leading up to Sen. Ted Stevens' conviction on corruption charges is Chad Joy, court officials revealed today.

Joy's name was released during a court hearing to determine whether to release to the public additional blacked-out sections of the agent's whistle-blower complaint about alleged misconduct by federal investigators and prosecutors.

Justice Department prosecutors, who initially fought even allowing the complaint to be made public, during the hearing asked for an even more revealing version of the document to be filed. Their aim was to make it easier to respond to a motion filed by Stevens' lawyers to dismiss the case -- or to win a new trial.

"For practical purposes, it's going to be difficult to respond to the motion to dismiss using pseudonyms," said William Welch, head of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section.

Stevens' defense team has always sought to make the whole document public, as part of their post-conviction effort to overturn the former senator's conviction.

During Wednesday's hearing, Welch also told U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan that Joy's name could be revealed because the agent didn't qualify for whistle-blower status under federal guidelines.

That surprised the judge, who wanted to know when exactly the Justice Department attorney on the case knew that Joy wasn't granted whistle-blower status. Had he known that during a secret hearing last month when they first discussed the matter, Sullivan said, he would have treated it much differently. He would have been less inclined to release a heavily redacted version of the complaint, Sullivan said.

"I would have done things completely differently had I known he'd been denied status," Sullivan said. "It would have made a significant difference."

Brenda Morris, the lead prosecutor in Stevens' case, said she was unaware of the exact date that they learned he didn't have whistle-blower status -- but said she had to seek the information out herself. She also indicated that it was a matter she had some discomfort with, because it was being handled by the Justice Department's internal investigative unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility.

"We didn't have any contact with Agent Joy, we still haven't," Morris said, then covered her mouth with her hand, as though she had revealed too much.

Sullivan, who frequently displayed annoyance with the Justice Department's handling of the case during the trial, ordered Morris and Welch to seek a signed declaration by the attorney general detailing exactly what the attorneys knew -- and when -- about Joy's whistle-blower status.

"I want a paper trail and I want an information trail," he said.