Ex-Illinois governor Blagojevich guilty of corruption
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media at the Federal Courthouse in Chicago on Monda
Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been convicted on 17 corruption charges, for offences that included an attempt to sell an appointment to Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.
CTV.ca News Staff
The jury delivered the verdict in the retrial on Monday afternoon in a Chicago courtroom, after nine days of deliberations.
During seven days of testimony, the former governor continued to deny any wrongdoing. But evidence obtained by FBI wiretaps was used by prosecutors to make their case.
In one taped conversation, Blagojevich called the vacant Senate seat "f------ golden."
Blagojevich, who used his conversational style to win two terms as governor, was initially arrested in December 2008 while still in office, following hundreds of wiretaps from the FBI. A month later, he was impeached by the Illinois legislature.
"The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at the time. Fitzgerald also quarterbacked criminal charges in Illinois against former media baron Conrad Black.
Since Blagojevich's initial arrest, he had steadfastly maintained his innocence, and he used regular chats with the media to make his case.
Along with regular appearances on American talk shows, Blagojevich also appeared on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice." He was "fired" by Trump for perceived ineptitude.
Blagojevich's wife also appeared on the show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here," where she spent time in the jungle and ate a tarantula.
While the constant television appearances may have been an attempt to pay for rising legal costs and keep a high media profile, many critics saw the behaviour as unbecoming of the office Blagojevich once held.
During the first trial, the jury was unable to convict the former governor on anything but the least serious charge, which was lying to the FBI. That charge carries a five-year prison term.
Monday's verdict, however, had a very different outcome.
As a chief strategy, Blagojevich's defence lawyers attempted to explain away the FBI wiretap evidence as the chattering of a verbose politician fond of thinking out loud.
But hundreds of tape conversations told the story of a man who attempted to use his office as an auctioneer's stump, prosecutors said.
With Monday's additional convictions, Blagojevich could face 300 years in prison. However, sentencing guidelines will likely diminish the severity of the eventual prison term.
A status hearing for sentencing has been set for Aug. 1, and Blagojevich was ordered not to travel beyond the Chicago area by the trial judge.
Initially, Blagojevich faced 20 charges, 17 of which he was found guilty of. The jury was deadlocked on one charge of extortion, one charge of soliciting bribes and an additional charge of attempted extortion.more
Monday, June 27, 2011
6/27/2011 02:39:00 PM live news No comments