Monday, October 27, 2008

Ted Stevens Found Guilty

A jury today found U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens guilty of all seven counts of lying on his financial disclosure forms.

It is the highest-profile felony conviction in a sweeping four-year federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics, and a rare conviction by a jury of a sitting U.S. senator.

Jurors found Stevens, 84, guilty of willfully filing false financial-disclosure forms that hid such gifts as a $2,695 massage chair, a stained glass window, a sled dog and renovations that doubled the size of his Girdwood home. Those gifts, valued at as much as $250,000 over seven years, came mostly from his former friend Bill Allen, the star prosecution witness in Stevens' trial and the former owner of Veco Corp.

The oil field-services company was one of Alaska's largest private employers before Allen, caught up in the federal corruption probe himself, was forced to sell it last year.

Now, Alaska voters will decide whether Stevens, who's represented the state in the Senate since 1968 and before that served in the state legislature and as a former assistant U.S. attorney and Interior Department official, should continue to serve as their senator.

That decision came quickly for they jurors, who deliberated for less than two full days. As the jury foreman read out the first guilty count this afternoon, the senator slumped slightly but was silent. When the second count was read, his lawyer Brendan Sullivan reached over and put his arm around Stevens. Sullivan shook his head in disappointment as the verdict was read.

As the senator exited the packed courtroom, his wife, Catherine, kissed him on the cheek.

"It's not over yet," he told her. She responded: "You got that right."

Then he added, "Not over yet."

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