Jurors were offered conflicting views of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens during a four-week corruption trial: a cantankerous but credible senator who didn't know he was being lavished with free gifts, or a sour-faced, scheming one who thought he knew how to quietly get undisclosed freebies.
Stevens completed three days of testimony Monday with lawyers still trying to convince jurors of their portrait of the longtime Republican lawmaker, who has been charged with lying on financial disclosure forms about $250,000 in renovations and other gifts he received from oil services contractor VECO Corp.
Closing arguments were scheduled for today and jurors were to begin deliberating Wednesday.
Stevens has said he never sought gifts and wouldn't even accept a free lunch, much less the expensive remodeling services that changed his A-frame cabin in Girdwood, Alaska, into a large, modern home with a sauna, wine cellar and wraparound porches. He and his wife, Catherine, paid for everything they knew of, Stevens insisted.
"Catherine paid for the work that was done at our house, she paid the bills and that's all there is to it," said Stevens, the last words he left the jury with before leaving the stand.
Prosecutors say he had a history of accepting gifts - including an expensive massage chair in his Washington home - and omitting them from the financial disclosure forms. Stevens has insisted repeatedly that the chair was a loan from a friend, although it has been in his house for seven years.
Once an untouchable political force, Stevens faces a tough re-election fight, and he's hoping for an acquittal before Election Day.
In the hot seat
An expensive massage chair in Sen. Ted Stevens' Washington home was a topic of questioning Monday.
Prosecutor Brenda Morris: "How is that not a gift?"
Stevens: "He bought that chair as a gift, but I refused it as a gift. He put it there and said it was my chair. I told him I would not accept it as a gift. We have lots of things in our house that don't belong to us."
Morris: "So, if you say it's not a gift, it's not a gift?"
Stevens: "I refused it as a gift. I let him put it in our basement at his request."