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Breaking: Sen. Ted Stevens Indicted

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was indicted today on seven counts of making false statements in Washington, D.C.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File You can read the indictment here, which focuses on Stevens' alleged concealment of gifts from the Alaskan oil company VECO and the company's CEO Bill Allen; according to the indictment, Stevens did not disclose them in the annual Senate financial disclosure forms. The indictment is just the latest move in the FBI's sprawling Alaskan public corruption investigation of VECO's ties to state and federal lawmakers. Stevens has not yet surrendered to authorities.

At a press conference today, Matthew Friedrich, the chief of the Justice Department's criminal division, said that Stevens would be allowed to turn himself in. Our call to Stevens' lawyer was not immediately returned.

According to the indictment, Stevens accepted more than $250,000 in gifts from VECO and Allen, the largest coming in the form of a major renovation to Stevens' home in Girdwood, Alaska, which involved jacking up and resting the house on stilts to add a new first floor. VECO employees and contractors performed "significant portions" of the renovations, says the indictment, and Stevens never reimbursed the oil company for the work.

The indictment also says that in 1999, Allen exchanged a new Land Rover for Stevens' 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang and $5,000. The Mustang was worth less than $20,000.

While prosecutors do not allege a quid pro quo, the indictment does charge that "it was part of the scheme" that Stevens "could and did use his official position and his office on behalf of VECO." Among the favors requested by Allen and VECO enumerated in the indictment are funding requests, federal grants and help with "both federal and state issues" concerning VECO's construction of a natural gas pipeline in Alaska.

Update: In a statement, Stevens says that he's "never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form" and that he's innocent. He also says that he's temporarily stepped down from his positions as the ranking member on both the Senate commerce and appropriations committees in accordance with GOP bylaws.

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