Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, locked in a tight re-election race, was convicted of 7 counts of making false statements to the FBI regarding the non payment of improvements on his house.
"I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have," the 84-year-old Stevens, the Senate's longest-serving Republican, said in a written statement after the jury came back Monday afternoon. "I am innocent."
Stevens was convicted of seven counts of making false statements on Senate ethics forms to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and work on his Alaska home from an oilfield contractor at the center of a corruption investigation in the state.
"This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial," he said.
The senator's lawyers twice sought to have the charges thrown out during the month-long trial, accusing prosecutors of hiding evidence favorable to the defense. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected those efforts, but blasted prosecutors for "hiding the ball."
"I ask that Alaskans and my Senate colleagues stand with me as I pursue my rights," Stevens said. He vowed to get the trial's results overturned and added, "I remain a candidate for the United States Senate.
The 83 year old Stevens is the longest serving Republican Senator in history and the first senator convicted of a felony since 1981.
Governor Sarah Palin said that the conviction was a " sad day for Alaska and a sad day for Sen. Stevens and his family." It will also mean the probable loss of his senate seat to Democrat Mark Begich who began the campaign as something of a sacrificial lamb and is now poised to win the seat.