- Associated Press - Thursday, August 26, 2010

CHICAGO | Former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich is set to go back on trial in January, but he will stand alone as a defendant this time after prosecutors dismissed all corruption charges against his brother on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said Rod Blagojevich’s retrial will start the week of Jan. 4, but he did not set a specific date. Jurors deadlocked last week on all but one of 23 charges against the former governor and four charges against his brother.

Robert Blagojevich, who was a political adviser to his brother, a Democrat, said he was surprised by the dismissal, but had an inkling that prosecutors were wavering in their case against him when they called his attorney “proposing a strategy” on Wednesday.

He said he turned down prosecutors, and though he would not say what prosecutors were offering, “We were encouraged by it, of course. We speculated briefly on what it might mean [but] we didn’t think it would mean a dismissal today.”

The one-time Nashville, Tenn., businessman also said he is convinced that prosecutors never thought he was guilty of any crime, but used him as “leverage.”

He suggested that if prosecutors were trying to put pressure on his brother by charging him, it was not going to work.

“When it comes to my brother I’ve become accustomed to being an afterthought,” he said, when asked about the ex-governor’s failure to contact him after the charges were dismissed.

Federal prosecutors said their decision to dismiss the charges was based on Robert Blagojevich’s less central role in suspected schemes to sell or trade an appointment to President Obama’s former Senate seat and to pressure people for campaign donations.

Some jurors said the panel was close to acquitting Robert Blagojevich. A few said they did not want to see him retried. The brothers have denied any wrongdoing.

Robert Blagojevich’s attorney, Michael Ettinger, said his client does not intend to testify against his brother.

Robert Blagojevich worked as his brother’s campaign manager for four months in 2008. The Republican had been a successful banker and retired Army officer living in Nashville with his wife.

The retrial, starting just after the new year, could contain more embarrassing and uncomfortable moments for Mr. Obama and several other Illinois Democrats who dealt with Rod Blagojevich.