Senator Charged With Lying About Gifts

US Senator of Alaska Ted Stevens
Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted Tuesday on seven counts of failing to disclose thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.

Stevens, the first sitting U.S. senator to face federal indictment since 1993, has been dogged by a federal investigation into his home renovation project and whether he pushed for fishing legislation that also benefited his son, an Alaska lobbyist.

The investigation has upended Alaska state politics and cast scrutiny on Stevens - who is running for re-election this year - and on his congressional colleague, Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who is also under investigation.

CBS News reports all seven false statement counts relate to the statements he made on financial disclosure forms from 1999 to the 2006 form. The indictment says Stevens "knowingly and intentionally sought to conceal and cover up his receipt of things of value by filing Financial Disclosure Forms that contained false statements and omissions."

Indictment Of Sen. Ted Stevens
From May 1999 to August 2007, prosecutors said, the 84-year-old senator concealed "his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value from a private corporation."

The indictment unsealed Tuesday says the items included: home improvements to his vacation home in Alaska, including a new first floor, garage, wraparound deck, plumbing, electrical wiring; as well as a Viking gas grill, furniture and tools. He also was accused of failing to report swapping an old Ford for a new Land Rover to be driven by one of his children.

Prosecutors said Stevens received more than $250,000 in gifts and services from VECO Corp., a powerful oil services contractor, and its executives.

The former CEO of VECO, Bill Allen, cooperated in the case against Stevens.

Stevens has been the subject of a wide-ranging investigation -- and with this announcement -- Stevens becomes the highest level politician charged in the department's crackdown on alleged corruption, CBS News reports.

Prosecutors said Stevens "took multiple steps to continue" receiving things from oil services company VECO Corp., and its founder, Bill Allen. At the time, the indictment says, Allen and other VECO employees were soliciting Stevens for "multiple official actions .... knowing that Stevens could and did use his official position and his office on behalf of VECO during that same time period."

VECO's requests included funding and other aid for the oil services company's projects and partnerships in Pakistan and Russia. It also included federal grants from several agencies - as well as help in building a national gas pipeline in Alaska's North Slope Region, according to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Justice Department said Stevens will not be arrested and will be allowed to turn himself in.

"Once again and for what seems like the hundredth time it's not necessarily the crime it's the cover-up. The indictment apparently alleges that Stevens made false statements to federal investigators, the same sorts of charges that brought down people like Martha Stewart and Lewis Scooter Libby," CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen said.

"As a purely legal matter, Stevens may continue to serve in the Senate even while he defends himself against the charges," Cohen adds. "But these types of false statement trials take up an extraordinary amount of time and energy, not to mention money, and it's hard to see how he play both roles, Senator and Defendant, successfully."

However, under Senate rules, Tuesday's indictment will require Stevens to give up his post as senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

Stevens responded to the charges in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

"I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years," he said. "My public service, began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a US Senator. In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished by vice chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges. The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly. I am innocent of these charges and I intend to prove that."