Ted Stevens found guilty in corruption case
1 hr 10 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has been convicted of lying about free home renovations and other gifts he received from a wealthy oil contractor.
The Senate's longest-serving Republican, Stevens was found guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents.
The verdict throws the upcoming election into disarray. Stevens is fighting off a challenge from Democrat Mark Begich and must now either drop out or continue campaigning as a convicted felon.
The trial hinged on the testimony of Stevens' longtime friend, who testified that his employees dramatically remodeled the senator's home.
Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count but, under federal sentencing guidelines, will likely receive much less prison time, if any.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jurors in Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial passed a note with "a potential verdict" to a federal judge Monday, a courthouse spokesman said.
The jury has been beset by problems since deliberations began Wednesday. Courthouse spokesman Sheldon Snook said the panel sent a note Monday. Attorneys for both sides were called back to court Monday for a reading of the note.
Court officials were also testing the jury microphone, which is normally reserved for the reading of verdicts.
The ambiguity of the note's description, though, apparently leaves open the possibility that jurors have been unable to reach a unanimous verdict. If so, the judge likely would send them back to continue deliberating.
In a tight election year, the verdict has the potential to alter the nation's political landscape. The Senate's longest-serving Republican is fending off an aggressive Democratic challenger. If Stevens is convicted, it would hurt his chance of keeping a seat he's held for generations. And it could push Democrats toward a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Stevens is charged with lying on Senate financial forms about $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts he received from an oil contractor.
Stevens spent three days on the witness stand, vehemently denying that allegation. He said his wife, Catherine, paid every bill they received.
Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count, but under federal sentencing guidelines, he would likely receive much less prison time, if any.
Stevens' trial hinged on the testimony of Bill Allen, the senator's longtime drinking and fishing buddy. Allen, the founder of VECO, testified that he never billed his friend for the extensive work on the house and that Stevens knew he was getting a deal.
Stevens is a legendary figure in Alaska, where he has wielded political influence since before statehood. His knack for steering billions of dollars in federal money to his home state has drawn praise from his constituents and consternation from budget hawks.
Sounds good to me.