Tom DeLay, the former U.S. House majority leader, was found guilty Wednesday of laundering corporate money into political donations during the 2002 elections, reports the Austin American-Statesman. DeLay, 63, at one time one of the most powerful men in Washington, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces a possible sentence of five to 99 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine on the money laundering charge, and two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors argued that DeLay conspired to launder corporate money into political donations as the first step in creating a GOP majority in the Texas House. The state later redrew its congressional districts to favor Republicans, which prosecutors said bolstered DeLay’s hold on his leadership post in Washington. State law prohibits corporations from giving donations to candidates directly or indirectly. Prosecutors believe the DeLay case is the first such criminal charge ever filed over the state’s century-old law on corporate contributions in state political races.