Judge rejects move to dismiss Stevens charges

WASHINGTON -- All the bluster about "dilatory" tactics aside, it looks as though Sen. Ted Stevens will go to trial in two weeks, as scheduled and in the midst of his re-election bid.

Lawyers for the Alaska Republican tried but failed Wednesday to have the corruption case thrown out on grounds it is unconstitutional and that some counts in the indictment were outside the statute of limitations.

Stevens, 84, faces seven felony counts of knowingly taking home repairs and gifts worth more than $250,000 from the oil field services company Veco Corp. and failing to report them on his annual U.S. Senate disclosure forms.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Sept. 22.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled against most of the motions filed by Stevens' lawyers, including one that would have stricken language in the indictment that suggests he accepted gifts and renovations from Veco in exchange for legislative favors for the company.

Sullivan is expected to issue additional rulings on two key issues leading up to the trial. He will determine whether evidence in the case violates constitutional separations that keep lawmakers from being prosecuted for their legislative actions in the halls of Congress. He'll also rule on whether prosecutors can introduce a wide array of other evidence to boost their case, including showing that Stevens hid a $31,000 loan from a friend and then parlayed it into $129,250 in real estate gains.