Washington -- Sen . Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was indicted Tuesday on seven felony counts for failing to disclose more than $250,000 in gifts since 2001, the Justice Department announced.
Stevens, 84, is accused of omitting from his annual Senate financial disclosures that an Alaska oil services company and its top executive paid to renovate a Girdwood, Alaska, home owned by Stevens and his wife, acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich said at a press conference here.
"A primary purpose of such forms is to disclose, monitor and deter conflict of interest and maintain public confidence in the United States Senate and its membership," Friedrich said.
The Justice Department is not planning to arrest Stevens, who is expected to surrender to authorities at some point.
Stevens is the most senior Republican in Senate and the eldest of his party on the Commerce Committe. Appointed to his seat in 1968, he became a powerful figure in allocating billions in federal funding and overseeing the actions of the Federal Communications Commission.
In 2006, Stevens failed to pass a sweeping telecommunications bill that would have expedited AT&T's and Verizon's entry into local cable TV markets. Google, Yahoo! and eBay helped to defeat it by complaining that it lacked sufficient network neutrality safeguards on the Internet.
The improvements to Stevens' home -- which included a new first floor and a finished basement -- were paid by VECO Corp., a private oil company and one of Alaska largest employers, and the company's CEO Bill J. Allen.
"VECO contractors and employees performed a significant portion of these renovations," Friedrich said
Stevens didn't report VECO's involvement as either gifts or liabilities on his financial disclosures, Friedrich said
Under penalty of perjury, Stevens was required to report any gift that exceeded $305 from 2003 to 2006. By failing to do so, Stevens made "false statements," Friedrich said.
"Sen. Stevens did not reimburse or repay VECO or its chief executive officer for these items," Friedrich said.
Stevens' indictment by a federal grand jury in D.C. was part of Justice's four-year old probe into political corruption in Alaska. The investigation has led to the conviction of seven individuals, Friedrich said.
Former VECO CEO Allen pleaded guilty in May 2007 of making "more than $400,000 in corrupt payments to public officials" in Alaska, according to DOJ.
Stevens released a statement Tuesday afternoon: “I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator. In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges. The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly. I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.”