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 Monday - 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 re-election 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, and Stevens is still hugely popular in his home state.
The jury - itself a daily drama, trying to expel one of its own members - 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.
Visibly shaken after the verdicts were read - the jury foreman declaring "guilty" seven times - Stevens tried to intertwine his fingers but quickly put his hands down to his side after noticing they were trembling. As he left the courtroom, he got a quick kiss on the cheek from his wife, Catherine, who testified on his behalf during the trial.
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 judge did not immediately set a sentencing date.
The monthlong trial revealed that employees for VECO Corp., an oil services company, transformed Stevens' modest Alaska mountain cabin into a modern, two-story home with wraparound porches, a sauna and a wine cellar.
Stevens said he had no idea he was getting freebies. He said his wife handled the business of the renovation. He said he paid $160,000 for the project and believed that covered everything.
As his attorneys had during the trial, Stevens said in a statement issued afterward that prosecutors had improperly held back favorable evidence, had sent a crucial witness back to Alaska and "allowed evidence to be introduced that they knew was false."
"I am innocent," he declared. "I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights." Addressing the folks back home, he added, "I will come home Wednesday and ask for your vote."
He had asked for an unusually speedy trial, hoping he'd be exonerated in time to win re-election. Despite being a convicted felon, he is not required to drop out of the race or resign from the Senate. If he wins re-election, he can continue to hold his seat because there is no rule barring felons from serving in Congress. The Senate could vote to expel him on a two-thirds vote.