A federal jury Monday found Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens guilty on all seven counts in his corruption trial.
Stevens, 84, was convicted of intentionally failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations on Senate financial disclosure forms between 2000 and 2006. The point, prosecutors said, was to conceal the primary source of the free goods -- the senator’s longtime friend Bill Allen, former owner of oil services company VECO.
Each count carries a maximum of five years in prison. Stevens, who was defiant when he took the stand earlier this month, remained so as he left the courtroom Monday.
"It's not over yet. It’s not over yet," he said.
Stevens was represented by a high-profile defense team from Williams & Connolly, led by Brendan Sullivan Jr. After the verdict was read, Sullivan wrapped his arm around Stevens, as did Williams & Connolly associate Beth Stewart. Sullivan declined to comment.
The verdict was handed down on a day when U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia had restarted jury deliberations. On Sunday night, the judge decided to replace a juror who had departed abruptly because of the death of her father. Sullivan said that the court had lost contact with that juror. An alternate took her place Monday morning, despite objections from Stevens’ defense team.
Though jail may be looming for the senator, many D.C. criminal defense lawyers believe he will get no more than six months in prison, if that. They point out that his age and public service will weigh on the sentencing decision.
The verdict, however, is likely to derail Stevens' bid for re-election. The longest-serving Republican senator, Stevens is in a tight race against his Democratic rival, a race that most observers said hinged on the outcome of the trial.
The conviction is a win for the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which had made some serious gaffes during the month-long trial. Judge Sullivan found prosecutors had failed to turn over exculpatory information to the defense and had presented false evidence to the jury. As a result, the government was barred from using some evidence and the jury was told to ignore certain testimony.
"Given how much trouble the prosecution had with this case, the outcome is somewhat surprising," says Covington & Burling partner Robert Kelner, who chairs the firm’s election and political law practice group. "But the government pretty much always has the edge in criminal corruption cases like this, particularly in the District of Columbia."