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Ex-House leader DeLay convicted of money laundering
(Reuters) - Former Republican House majority leader Tom DeLay was found guilty of laundering money on Wednesday, local media reported.
The web site for the Austin American-Statesman reported that DeLay, nicknamed "The Hammer" for his iron control of the Republican caucus in Congress, was accused of conspiring to funnel $190,000 in campaign donations for Republican candidates to the Texas legislature in the 2002 elections.
Republican ex-House leader guilty of money laundering
AUSTIN, Texas — A jury in Texas has convicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on charges he illegally funneled corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. Delay was once one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress. He now faces up to life in prison.
Jurors in Austin deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts on Wednesday on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Prosecutors say the former Houston-area congressman used his political action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into Texas legislative races through a money swap.
DeLay and his attorneys maintained no corporate funds went to Texas candidates and the money swap was legal.
DeLay has chosen to have Senior Judge Pat Priest sentence him.
He faces five years to life in prison on the money laundering charge and two to 20 years on the conspiracy charge. He also would be eligible for probation.
Before a hushed courtroom, DeLay stood silently as the judge read “guilty” to both charges. After the judge dismissed the jury, he turned and kissed and hugged his wife, who was sitting on the front row. His daughter began to cry.
“It’s okay,” he told them, a somber look on his face.
“I praise the Lord for what’s going on,” he told reporters outside the courtroom a few moments later. “I’m not going to blame anybody.”
He called the prosecution an “abuse of power” and a “miscarriage of justice.”
He complained that the “criminalization of politics undermines our system.”
“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “It is what it is. Maybe we can get it before people who understand the law.”
DeGuerin decried the verdicts as “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
“To say I’m shocked is an understatement,” he said, promising to appeal the conviction. He and DeLay hinted that they hope the conviction will be overturned on appeal.
Judge has many options in sentencing DeLay
Before DeLay's inevitable appeal, which his lawyers predict will be a far friendlier process than his trial, he faces sentencing next month from Senior Judge Pat Priest. While technically the money laundering charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison, the judge has wide latitude and could end up just giving him probation.
"It is absolutely impossible he would get anywhere near life," said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. "It would be a period of a few years, if he gets prison."
Barry Pollack, a Washington-based lawyer who represents clients in white-collar and government corruption cases, said the judge may not feel the need to throw the book at DeLay, figuring the conviction itself is severe punishment for someone who once ascended to the No. 2 post in the House of Representatives.
For example, as a convicted felon, DeLay won't be able to run again for public office or even be able to cast a vote until he completes his sentence.