Monday, October 27

Alaska's Stevens To Add New Title: Convicted Felon?

It was just a matter of time before the inveterate Sen. Ted Stevens would replace another Alaskan from the front page (if only for a minute). Stevens becomes the first senator to be convicted of a felony since 1981.

"Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens, who has been the leading "pork producer" for Alaska for 40 years, was found guilty of "knowingly and willfully" scheming to conceal on Senate disclosure forms more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from an Alaska-based oil industry contractor, Bill Allen, and Allen's oil industry services company, VECO Corp and was convicted on all seven charges of ethics violations.

Stevens faces a maximum sentence of up to to 35 years in prison -- five years for each of the seven counts. Under GOP rules, any indicted senator must be removed temporarily from their positions and permanently if convicted. Stevens was ranking member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and on the Appropriations Defense subcommittee.

Stevens will likely appeal the conviction, and his supporters are also likely to explore the possibility of obtaining a pardon from President Bush, before he leaves office in January.

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