Jury convicts DeLay in money laundering trial Former U.S. House majority leader faces up to life in prison
AUSTIN, Texas —
Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — once one of the most
powerful and feared Republicans in Congress — was convicted Wednesday on charges
he illegally funneled corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.
Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty
verdicts against DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit
money laundering. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering
After the verdicts were read, DeLay hugged his daughter,
Danielle, and his wife, Christine. His lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they
planned to appeal the verdict.
"This is an abuse of power. It's a miscarriage of justice,
and I still maintain that I am innocent. The criminalization of politics
undermines our very system and I'm very disappointed in the outcome," DeLay told
reporters outside the courtroom. He remains free on bond, and his sentencing was
tentatively set to begin on Dec. 20 th
Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose
heavy-handed style earned him the nickname "the Hammer," used his political
action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into 2002
legislative races through a money swap.
DeLay and his attorneys maintained the former Houston-area congressman did nothing wrong as no corporate funds went to Texas
candidates and the money swap was legal.
The verdict came after a three-week trial in which
prosecutors presented more than 30 witnesses and volumes of e-mails and other
documents. DeLay's attorneys presented five witnesses.
Prosecutors said DeLay conspired with two associates, John
Colyandro and Jim Ellis, to use his Texas-based PAC to send $190,000 in
corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee,
or RNC. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under
Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns.
Prosecutors claim the money helped Republicans take control
of the Texas House. That enabled the GOP majority to push through a
Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan
that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004 — and strengthened DeLay's
DeLay's attorneys argued the money swap resulted in the seven
candidates getting donations from individuals, which they could legally use in
Texas.They also said DeLay only lent his name to the PAC and had
little involvement in how it was run. Prosecutors, who presented mostly
circumstantial evidence, didn't prove he committed a crime, they said.
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
The 2005 criminal charges in Texas, as well as a separate
federal investigation of DeLay's ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack
Abramoff, ended his 22-year political career representing suburban Houston.
The Justice Department probe into DeLay's ties to Abramoff ended without any
charges filed against DeLay.
Ellis and Colyandro, who face lesser charges, will be tried
Except for a 2009 appearance on ABC's hit television show
"Dancing With the Stars," DeLay has been out of the spotlight since resigning
from Congress in 2006. He now runs a consulting firm based in the Houston suburb
of Sugar Land.
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