Longtime Republican senator charged in corruption probe
(dpa) - Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the US Senate, has been indicted for failing to disclose corporate gifts worth more than 250,000 dollars, the US Justice Department announced Tuesday.
The 84-year-old Alaska senator's home was raided earlier this year as part of a wide-reaching corruption probe that has already led to charges against a number of Alaska state legislators and businessmen.
Stevens on Tuesday maintained his innocence and vowed to fight the charges, but announced his resignation from committee chairmanships and Republican leadership positions in the Senate until he cleared his name.
"It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me," he said in a statement. "I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."
The indictment by a federal grand jury in Washington charges Stevens with seven counts of making false statements on financial disclosure forms that he is required to fill out as a US senator.
Stevens made no mention on disclosure forms of gifts he received from Alaska firm Veco - one of the largest private employers in the state - from 1999 to 2006, according to Matthew Friedrich, the acting assistant attorney general.
Veco chief executive Bill Allen has already pleaded guilty to bribing public officials. Stevens accepted gifts from the company and from Allen, including home renovations, furniture and other household goods valued at more than 250,000 dollars, Friedrich said.
Stevens was first elected to the Senate in 1968 and faces re- election in November.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said it was a "sad day" for Congress but did not call for Stevens' resignation from the chamber.
"I ... have served with Senator Stevens my entire congressional career," he said. "I believe in the American system of justice that he's presumed innocent."