Stevens Pleads Not Guilty

Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:30pm

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) appeared in federal court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to seven counts of making false statements. The longest-serving Republican Senator is accused of filing erroneous financial disclosure forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts over an eight-year period. Stevens attorney Brendan Sullivan entered the Senator’s plea as Stevens stood next to him in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Emmet Sullivan set the trial date for Sept. 24, but noted that it could be delayed one or two days depending on the status of other cases. Citing the upcoming Alaska primary and November general election, Sullivan asked the court to consider a speedy trial. “I do want to ask the court [for] consideration of the fact he would like to clear his name before the general election,” Brendan Sullivan said, noting that the veteran lawmaker is seeking “no special favors.” Government prosecutors said they would agree to the request for a speedy trial, adding that they could be ready for trial as early as Sept 22. Although Brendan Sullivan suggested that the trial could take just two weeks to complete, government attorneys said their case alone would take three weeks. Brendan Sullivan estimated that as many as 10 of the 40 to 50 expected witness could testify per day. Stevens’ attorney is also seeking a change of venue, asking that the trial be moved to Alaska given the number of witnesses located there. “We would like to promptly file a motion for a venue change,” he said. Prosecutors said they would oppose the motion, and the judge seemed cool to moving the trial to the Senator’s home state, saying, “I think venue is appropriate here.” Government prosecutors said that as of Thursday, Stevens has not been offered a plea agreement. “There are no plea offers available at this time,” prosecutor Brenda Morris said. Neither Stevens nor his attorney said anything as they left the courtroom.