The Associated Press is reporting that former Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) has been convicted of money laundering charges. “The verdict came down five years after DeLay was forced to step down as the second most powerful Republican in the U.S,” noted the AP. According to the New York Times, DeLay faces “up to life in prison”:
Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before they came back with guilty verdicts against Mr. DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The verdict was the latest chapter in a long legal battle that forced Mr. DeLay to step down. The trial also opened a window on the world of campaign financing in Washington, as jurors heard testimony about large contributions flowing to Mr. DeLay from corporations seeking to influence him and junkets to posh resorts where the congressman would rub shoulders with lobbyists in return for donations.
Mr. DeLay faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge. [...] Judge Pat Priest has wide discretion in sentencing the former majority leader, who was known as “The Hammer” for his no-holds-barred style during 20 years in the House of Representatives. Mr. Delay could be sentenced from 2 years to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy count, and from 5 years to 99 years, or life in prison, for the money-laundering count..
DeLay had concocted a scheme to funnel corporate money from his lobbyist allies into Texas state politics, illegally circumventing state law barring corporate money. DeLay’s front, Texans for a Republican Majority, then used that money to elect a new majority of Republicans to the state legislature and gerrymander the state so DeLay could elect more House Republicans. The new district lines, drawn in 2003, targeted House 11 Democrats for defeat. Investigators narrowed down $190,000 in corporate money funneled by DeLay into the redistricting scheme.