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October 27, 2008

Senator Stevens convicted on all counts

As detailed in this CNN report, US Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted Monday afternoon on all seven counts in his federal corruption trial, and thus he now has to think about the federal sentencing guidelines and judicial sentencing discretion in a whole new way. Here are more particulars:

The jury found Stevens 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. Stevens faces a maximum sentence of up to to 35 years in prison -- five years for each of the seven counts.

Legal experts note the judge has the discretion to give Stevens as little as no jail time and probation when he is sentenced....

As Stevens left the defense area, he and his wife exchanged a kiss on the cheek. Stevens said: "It's not over yet." Stevens' defense team said they will move for a new trial....

The longest-serving Republican senator in history, Stevens becomes the first senator to be convicted of a felony since 1981.  Judge Emmet Sullivan has scheduled a hearing on any pending motions for February 25.

I wonder if Senator John McCain, who has expressed concern in an new op-ed about judicial sentencing discretion and about judges who "coddle criminals," will be urging Judge Sullivan not to exercise his discretion to show his Senate colleague any leniency. 

Some related posts:

UPDATEI have not yet seen any speculation about what kind of guideline sentence Senator Stevens might be facing, though I have previously guessed he would be facing a few years because of the potential application of various upward adjustments.  I have not frequently worked through the guidelines for corruption, so I would be grateful to readers using the comments to speculate on the applicable sentencing range.

October 27, 2008 at 06:39 PM | Permalink


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What's do guidelines recommended as a sentence, taking various factors of this case into account?


Posted by: Mike | Oct 27, 2008 8:46:01 PM

Certainly obstruction of justice for his lying on the witness stand and his getting his wife to lie. A federal judge will consider this very serious. Only problem is that Bush will pardon him.

Posted by: Oil City | Oct 27, 2008 9:08:35 PM

His sentencing hearing will not be until after the new president is in office.

So Bush won't have an opportunity to pardon him.

He will obviously take a hit for obstruction. I don't know the guidelines for this type of thing either. Doesn't come up too often.

Posted by: dan | Oct 27, 2008 10:35:57 PM

Interesting how they deliberated for days the first time... then one juror gets replaced, and it takes 4 hours to start over and reach a verdict...

Posted by: Monty | Oct 27, 2008 10:36:28 PM

I am not sufficiently conversant in the guidelines and have some questions. The first is whether age is a factor. This person is 84. The second regards health. Third regards violation of a position of trust. Lying to the nation about receipt of bribes seems to be a crime involving a position of trust. Fourth, does it matter that there are seven not one counts upon which he is convicted? In other words, if he is eligible for probation or house arrest on one count, does the fact that he is convicted seven times for the same type of conduct rule out probation or house arrest?

Sixth. There are also the bribing parties to think about. Now that the senior Senator is convicted, could the government give him downward departure for co-operation? It seems to me that the person who gives a bribe to a sitting United States Senator to gain favors that might yield millions of dollars to himself should be exposed to some crime and punishment experience of one sort or another.

Another issue arises. Can anyone out there on this blog inform us as to what Stevens might have done for the bribers in the way of favorable legislation or lenient regulatory oversight?

As regards McCain. Many politicians with military experience are big on preaching about how they fought for our freedoms abroad and small when it comes to preserving our freedoms at home. I am reminded of Senator "Tail Gunner Joe" McCarthy. The worst assaults on our constitution come out of the mouths of politicians who stand in front of sixteen well draped American flags, with flag pin on lapel and adoring wife at the side. They learned this political theatre from the Nuremburg rallies in Germany in the 30's. Their politics are well aligned with those who developed the political theatre at Nuremburg.

If I was the sentencing judge I would sentence the senior Senator to house arrest with an ankle bracelet, coupled with a probition from wearing the flag pin on his lapel. I would also prohibit him from staying in the house that the bribers built. As to restitution, I would require sale of the house that the bribers built or redecorated, with proceeds going to pay the cost of the prosecution.

Posted by: mpb | Oct 28, 2008 6:44:07 AM

I'm pretty ignorant of the application of sentencing guidelines in general, but my official predictions are:
41-51 mos. if they sentence him under 18 USC 1001 (which is what I think the convictions are under);
188-235 mos. if they sentence him under the more appropriate/applicable 18 USC 872, which the guidelines suggest.
That being said, those predictions are highly unscientific, I generated them on the internets, and obviously he is not going to actually get that much time..
In light of all the improvements he received to his home as bribes, I will be annoyed if he receives house arrest..

Posted by: Sarah | Oct 28, 2008 1:12:20 PM

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