Sen. Ted Stevens leaves federal court in Washington after a jury found him guilty.AP PHOTO
WASHINGTON — Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted of seven corruption charges Monday in a trial that threatened to end the 40-year career of Alaska’s political patriarch in disgrace.
The verdict, coming barely a week before Election Day, increased Stevens’ difficulty in winning what already was a difficult race against Democratic challenger Mark Begich. Democrats hope to seize the once reliably Republican seat as part of their bid for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Stevens, 84, was convicted of all the felony charges he faced of lying about free home renovations and other gifts from a wealthy oil contractor. Jurors began deliberating last week.
The senator showed no emotion as the jury foreman said “guilty” seven times. After the verdicts, Stevens sat in his chair and stared at the ceiling as attorney Brendan Sullivan put his arm around him.
Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each count when he is sentenced, but under federal guidelines he is likely to receive much less prison time, if any. The judge originally scheduled sentencing for Jan. 26 but then changed his mind and did not immediately set a date.
The monthlong trial revealed that employees for VECO Corp., an oil services company, transformed Stevens’ modest mountain cabin into a modern, two-story home with wraparound porches, a sauna and a wine cellar.
The Senate’s longest-serving Republican, Stevens said he had no idea he was getting freebies. He said he paid $160,000 for the project and believed that covered everything.
He had asked for an unusually speedy trial, hoping he’d be exonerated in time to return to Alaska and win re-election.
Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate.