|US Senator Ted Stevens said he will fight the jury's verdict and will not quit his race for reelection to his Senate seat. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)|
Stevens convicted of 7 felony charges
WASHINGTON - Ted Stevens, a pillar of the Senate for 40 years and the face of Alaska politics almost since statehood, was convicted of a seven-felony string of corruption charges yesterday - found guilty of accepting a bonanza of home renovations and fancy trimmings from an oil executive and then lying about it.
Unbowed, even defiant, Stevens accused prosecutors of blatant misconduct and said, "I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have."
The senator, 84 and already facing a challenging reelection contest next Tuesday, said he would stay in the race against Democrat Mark Begich. Though the convictions are a significant blow for the Senate's longest-serving Republican, they do not disqualify him.
The jury convicted Stevens of all the felony charges he faced, accusations based heavily on the testimony of a wealthy oil contractor who for years had been a fishing and drinking buddy.
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 time, if any. The month-long trial revealed that employees for VECO Corp., an oil services company, transformed Stevens' modest Alaska mountain cabin into a modern, two-story home. Stevens said he had no idea he was getting freebies.
Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate. If he wins reelection, he can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress.