Senator Stevens guilty on corruption charges
The longest serving Republican in the US Senate was found guilty of corruption related charges on Monday that could harm his bid for re-election and open the door for Democrats to strengthen their control of the upper chamber, the Associated Press reported.
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted in federal court of concealing more than 250,000 dollars in gifts he received from on oil contractor, including renovations of his home, CNN reported.
Stevens pleaded not guilty to the charges and the 84-year-old senator spent three days testifying at his trial that began in September. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Stevens was first elected to the Senate in 1968. Only Democrats Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd have served longer.
Stevens' home in Alaska was raided earlier this year as part of a wide-reaching corruption probe that also led to charges against a number of the Alaska's legislators and businessmen.
Prosecutors charged 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.
Former Veco chief executive Bill Allen has already pleaded guilty to bribing public officials. The Justice Department alleged only that Stevens failed to disclose the gifts and did not accuse him of accepting bribes.
Sarah Palin, the Republican governor of Alaska and John McCain vice presidential running mate, has strongly criticized Stevens, who is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Mark Begich.
The Democrats control the Senate by a 51-49 margin and hope voter backlash against Republicans in November 4 elections will give them a solid majority.