WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Ted Stevens, the nation's longest-serving Republican senator and a major figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted Tuesday on seven felony counts of concealing more than a quarter of a million dollars in house renovations and gifts from a powerful oil contractor that lobbied him for government aid.
Stevens, 84, is the first sitting U.S. senator to face federal indictment since 1993. He declared, "I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."
He is accused of lying on his annual Senate financial disclosure reports between 1999 and 2006 -- an indictment that caps a lengthy FBI investigation that has upended Alaska politics and brought unfavorable attention to both Stevens and his congressional colleague, GOP Rep. Don Young. Both are running for re-election this year.
Stevens' indictment further damages Republican prospects in the November election as Senate Democrats, who now enjoy a 51-49 majority, try to capture a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. Stevens faces both Democratic and Republican challengers who are trying to capitalize on his legal woes.
The Justice Department accused Stevens of accepting expensive work on his home in Girdwood, Alaska, a ski resort town outside Anchorage, from oil services contractor VECO Corp. and its executives. VECO normally builds oil processing equipment and pipelines, but its employees helped do the work on Stevens' home.
Strong quake rattles buildings, nerves in southern California
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The strongest earthquake to strike a populated area of Southern California in more than a decade rattled windows and chandeliers, made buildings sway and sent people running into the streets on Tuesday. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or major damage.
The 5.4-magnitude quake -- considered moderate -- was felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, and as far east as Las Vegas, 230 miles away. Nearly 30 aftershocks quickly followed, the largest estimated at 3.8.
The quake was centered 29 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles near Chino Hills, a San Bernardino County city of 80,000 built mostly in the early 1990s with the latest in earthquake-resistant technology.
Buildings swayed in downtown Los Angeles for several seconds, leading to the evacuation of some offices.
"I'm still shaking. My knees are wobbling. I thought the building might collapse," said Rosana Martinez, 50, an employee of California National Bank in downtown Los Angeles.