Republican senator Stevens pleads not guilty in corruption probe

Other News Materials 31 July 2008 23:49 (UTC +04:00)

Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the US Senate, pleaded not guilty in court Thursday to federal charges that he failed to disclose more than 250,000 dollars in gifts received from an Alaska firm, dpa reported.

Stevens, 84, who is up for re-election this year, asked the court to grant a speedy trial, which would allow the Alaska senator to clear his name ahead of the November poll, according to the congressional newspaper The Hill. A trial date was set for September 24.

Stevens was arraigned at a federal district court in Washington. The Justice Department charged him Tuesday with seven counts of making false statements on financial disclosure forms that he is required to fill out as a US senator.

Stevens' home in Alaska was raided earlier this year as part of a wide-reaching corruption probe that has already led to charges against a number of the state's legislators and businessmen.

According to the department, Stevens made no mention on the disclosure forms of gifts he received from Alaska firm Veco - one of the largest private employers in the state - from 1999 to 2006. The gifts included home renovations, furniture and other household goods valued at more than 250,000 dollars.

Former Veco chief executive Bill Allen has already pleaded guilty to bribing public officials. The Justice Department, however, did not allege Stevens was bribed, only that he failed to disclose the gifts.

Stevens, who was first elected to the Senate in 1968, has maintained his innocence. He resigned from committee chairmanships and Republican leadership positions in the Senate until the case runs its course.