Blagojevich convicted on 1 felony charge

One juror saved ex-governor from other counts; retrial likely

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In his post-trial comments Tuesday, Blagojevich also referred to a statement made the day of his arrest by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who said the former governor was stopped in the middle of a “political corruption crime spree.” Mr. Fitzgerald, who ordered Mr. Blagojevich arrested at his Chicago home, is also the prosecutor who made the statement about Lincoln rolling over in his grave.

“Well, this jury just showed you the government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me,” he said. “And on every charge, but one, they couldn’t prove I did anything wrong.”

It didn’t come as a surprise that the jury was deadlocked, as members told the judge in a note late last week that they had reached a consensus on only two charges and hadn’t even begun deliberations on 11 of the counts.

There was no explanation for why only one count was ultimately decided. It was not known until late Tuesday evening that the single holdout juror was responsible for the lengthy deliberations and failure to reach consensus on the vast bulk of the charges.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on any of the four corruption counts against Blagojevich’s brother and co-defendant, Robert Blagojevich, a Tennessee businessman who became involved with his brother’s fundraising efforts. Robert Blagojevich told reporters afterward that he would continue to fight to clear his name and expressed frustration that a second lengthy trial could be in the offing.

His attorney, Michael Ettinger, said the verdict “was not a loss and I expect next time to be a victory.”

Tuesday’s verdict was an anti-climactic end to a hotly contested trial that ultimately lasted 11 weeks.

The most memorable allegation in the case was what prosecutors called Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the presidential election of Barack Obama in late 2008.

Other charges accused the ousted governor of trying to get the Chicago Tribune to fire opinion writers in exchange for state funding for the Tribune-owned Chicago Cubs. Authorities also accused the two men of fostering a “pay-for-play” system, in which state jobs and contracts were won by filling the governor’s campaign coffers.

Prosecutors attempted to bolster these charges through numerous wiretap recordings that purported to give insight into the political schemes of the often profane Blagojevich.

But the full jury ultimately reached consensus on a charge that did not relate to the wiretaps but was the result of an interview of the former governor by FBI agents.

The pugnacious Blagojevich, with his distinctive mop of hair and appearances on late-night talk shows and reality television shows, has become a quasi-national celebrity in the wake of the criminal charges. He has consistently maintained his innocence in any forum he appeared.

His attorneys have said the government’s case proved only that their client was full of bluster, not that he committed any crime. In fact, his attorneys said they were confident enough that the government did not prove its case that they did not call any witnesses.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Ben Conery

Ben Conery

Ben Conery is a member of the investigative team covering the Supreme Court and legal affairs. Prior to coming to The Washington Times in 2008, Mr. Conery covered criminal justice and legal affairs for daily newspapers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was a 2006 recipient of the New England Newspaper Association’s Publick Occurrences Award for a series of articles about ...

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