On January 2, 2015, the United States Merit Systems Protection Board voided the suspensions of two Alaska Assistant United States Attorneys, James Bottini and James Goeke, in the public corruption case against former Sen. Ted Stevens. Bottini was represented by NAFUSA Board Member Ken Wainstein.
Bottini and Goeke were members of the 2008 federal criminal prosection team of Sen. Stevens. Although a jury convicted the Senator, the government moved to vacate the conviction on the grounds that its prosecution team had failed to disclose information that was exculpatory or could have been used for impeachment. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) found that Bottini and Goeke had recklessly, although not intentionally, committed professional misconduct in handling some of this information.
The Merit Systems Protections Board found that the Department committed harmful procedural error by deviating from its Professional Misconduct Review Unit (PMRU) disciplinary process. The Board found two harmful errors. The first, the agency replaced the proposing official after he authored his memorandum explaining why he believed OPR’s findings of reckless professional misconduct were not supported. Secondly, the agency designated the PMRU Chief, rather than a subordinate PMRU attorney, to serve as the proposing official.
Although the Board did not reach the merits of the substantive charge against the appellants, based on the procedural errors, it cancelled the suspensions and ordered the agency to pay the appellants back pay, interest and other benefits.