(Photo: United States Congress / Wikimedia)
Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was found guilty by a Texas jury Wednesday of money laundering and conspiracy related to campaign contributions he funneled to Texas candidates during the 2002 elections.
A jury of six men and six women delibertated for 19 hours before returning a guilty verdict. DeLay faces a sentence of 2 to 20 years for money laundering and a 5 to 99 year sentence for conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The Houston Chronicle reported that neither DeLay nor his family showed signs of emotion when the verdict was read. However, after court was dismissed "DeLay received a hug and a kiss from his wife" and "his adult daughter, Dani, buried her face into DeLay's shoulder and began sobbing. DeLay's face turned red as he fought back tears."
DeLay said outside of court the prosecution was politically motivated, an "abuse of power" and "miscarriage of justice."
"I still maintain that I am innocent," DeLay said. "The criminalization of politics undermines our system."
His attorney Dick DeGuerin, who had maintained that money laundering did not take place, also blasted the jury's verdict and said the verdict "will never stand up on appeal."
DeLay was forced to step down as majority leader after he was indicted. The case has dragged on for five years.
According to The New York Times:
In mid-September 2002, as the election heated up, Mr. DeLay’s state political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, gave a check for $190,000 to the Republican National Committee. The money had been donated earlier in the year by various corporate lobbyists seeking to influence Mr. DeLay, several witnesses said.
Prosecutors called more than 30 witnesses during the three-week trial in an attempt to prove to the jury that DeLay conspired with two of his colleagues to sidetep a Texas law that prohibits corporate donations being made to political campaigns either directly or indirectly.
The charges against DeLay originally centered on campaign finance law violations. But prosecutors revised those charges "because it was impossible under the law at the time to accuse someone of conspiring to break campaign finance rules," the Times noted.
"Prosecutors used a novel legal theory never before tried in Texas: they argued Mr. DeLay and two of political operatives — John Colyandro and Jim Ellis — had violated the criminal money-laundering law," the Times reported. "They were charged with conspiring to funnel $190,000 in corporate donations to state candidates through the Republican National Committee."
Gary Cobb, the lead prosecutor in the case, refuted DeLay's allegations that the case was politically motivated and said the jury rendered its verdict after being presented with the facts. Cobb said DeLay is a "corrupt politician who was caught violating the laws" of Texas.
One juror told the Houston Chronicle the entirety of the evidence prosecutors introduced during the trial convinced them of DeLay's guilt.
"It was just everything," the juror said.