Alaskan senator awaits verdict in corruption case

Twelve jurors began deliberating Wednesday on allegations of corruption against veteran U.S. Republican Senator Ted Stevens.

Twelve jurors began deliberating Wednesday on allegations of corruption against veteran U.S. Republican Senator Ted Stevens.

Senator Ted Stevens arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday as his trial on corruption charges goes to the jury. ((J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press))
The Alaska lawmaker is charged with seven counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms about more than $250,000 in gifts he received from his friend, millionaire oil contractor and VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen. The corporation is one of the largest employers in Alaska.

Stevens, 84, asked for an unusually speedy trial in hopes of clearing his name before the Nov. 4 general election, in which he hopes to retain the seat he's held since first being appointed in 1968.

The month-long trial has distracted the senator from a tough fight against his Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

Prosecutors have accused Stevens of "believing he was above the law" when he failed to report gifts from Allen.

Stevens told the court that he repeatedly asked Allen for bills for renovation work on his cabin, including wraparound decks, a new garage, new electricity and plumbing, a sauna and a master bedroom balcony.

He said he never asked for rope lighting, furniture, a gas grill, a fully stocked tool chest and other items that kept appearing at his house.

Defence lawyers said Stevens and his wife paid $160,000 for the remodelling, which more than covered the project's cost.

If convicted, Stevens faces up to five years in prison on each of the seven charges, though under federal sentencing guidelines he would likely receive much less prison time or be put on probation.

Under ethics laws, senators are required to fill out financial disclosure statements specifying all transactions to check for conflicts of interest.

With files from the Associated Press