(AP Photo/Chris Miller, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Embattled Sen. Ted Stevens is expected to have a lot to say on the last day of his trial on charges he tried to hide free home renovations and other gifts given to him by a crooked Alaska businessman.
The longtime Republican icon gets a last chance Monday to convince jurors in Washington - and constituents in Alaska about to vote on his re-election - that he didn't intentionally take freebies from Bill Allen, the former chief of oil services company VECO Corp.
Prosecutor Brenda Morris and defense lawyer Brendan Sullivan will question Stevens - the last witness in the monthlong trial - for a third day before beginning closing arguments. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan says he expects the jury to start deliberating early this week.
The senator has said his wife, Catherine, paid every bill the couple received for the modernization of their Alaska cabin - $160,000 in all.
"I pay my bills wherever I am," Stevens said Friday.
Stevens also claims Allen, who has pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators, kept the couple in the dark about the extent of the work that changed Stevens' modest A-frame cabin into a handsome two-story home and its cost.
But the Justice Department, who charged the senator with failing to disclose on Senate financial forms the renovations and freebies, alleges Stevens knew he was getting free or cut-rate home renovations and intentionally concealed them.
"If it was a gift, why did I ask for a bill?" said Stevens in one testy exchange with Morris.
"To cover your butt," Morris said calmly, a charge Stevens said "wasn't fair."
The senator, a patriarch of Alaska politics for generations, has languished in the courtroom in Washington as a Democratic opponent back home mounts a strong challenge to the seat the senator has held for 40 years.
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