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9/16/2008 21:38

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Sen. Stevens loses bid to dismiss


indictment
Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:00pm EDT

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Longtime Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of


Alaska lost a bid on Tuesday to dismiss the corruption case against him on
the grounds that the indictment infringed upon his constitutional rights as a
lawmaker.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected defense arguments for


dismissing the indictment on the grounds that the allegations involved
Stevens' legislative actions, votes and decisions.

The judge sided with Justice Department prosecutors, who said protections
granted lawmakers under the speech or debate clause of the U.S.
Constitution do not cover alleged criminal activity.

Stevens, 84, was indicted on July 29 on seven counts of filing false Senate
financial disclosure forms by leaving out more than $250,000 in gifts he
received from an Alaska oil services company, the VECO Corp.

Stevens faces a close race for re-election in November against a


Democratic challenger in what has long been a safe Republican seat.
Stevens has served 40 years in the Senate and is the longest-serving
Republican senator in U.S. history. His trial is set to start on September 22
with jury selection.

Sullivan said he had reviewed grand jury transcripts provided by


prosecutors, and only a handful of documents might implicate Stevens'
rights as a lawmaker. "Any potential violations (of his rights) can be avoided
at trial," he said.

Sullivan ruled that Stevens' rights as a legislator would not prevent


prosecutors from presenting evidence about requests by VECO that he help
secure government contracts or influence government agencies.

Such activities do not involve legislative acts, and the speech and debate
clause does not apply, Sullivan ruled.

He also said he was inclined to grant a prosecution request to introduce


other evidence at trial, including records of Stevens' alleged involvement in
questionable real estate transactions and evidence of gifts directed, at his
request, to his children and grandchildren.

The judge last week rejected other defense arguments to dismiss the
charges on the grounds that only the Senate may discipline Stevens for any
violations of Senate rules and that the indictment was unconstitutionally
vague.

(Editing by Randall Mikkelsen and Todd Eastham)


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