Blagojevich found guilty of corruption

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was convicted Monday of attempting to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat.

Blagojevich was convicted on 17 of 20 counts of public corruption, including all the charges related to trying to ransom Obama’s seat. As Illinois governor, Blagojevich was responsible for picking a replacement for Obama when the former senator was elected president in 2008. 

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Blagojevich was found not guilty on one charge regarding the solicitation of a bribe, and the jury deadlocked and did not deliver verdicts on two counts involving extortion.

The charges he was convicted on included wire fraud and other counts of extortion and conspiracy to solicit a bribe. 

U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel did not immediately set a sentencing date after the verdicts were handed down. Blagojevich could face up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charges, according to published reports.

Blagojevich remains free on bail. Zagel confined him to the Northern District of Illinois.

“Patti and I are obviously very disappointed,” Blagojevich said in brief remarks outside the courtroom before he got into an SUV. 

As Blagojevich and his wife walked toward the vehicle, boos issued from the crowd outside the courthouse. Blagojevich reportedly blew kisses to some of the onlookers.

According to reports, Patti Blagojevich began crying in the courtroom before the verdicts were read.

Blagojevich was accused of seeking a Cabinet post, money or a high-paying job in return for picking Obama’s replacement, backing certain legislation and divvying out state funds. Throughout his trial Blagojevich denied any wrongdoing.

Opening arguments took place May 2. The jury’s decision Monday came on the 10th day of deliberations.

This trial was actually a retrial. Previously, after deliberating for two weeks, the jury in the first trial in August 2010 came back deadlocked on all but one of the 24 counts—Blagojevich was convicted of lying to the FBI. 

 He has yet to be sentenced on that offense, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, authorities said.

In the first trial, Blagojevich did not testify. In the retrial he took the stand and testified for seven days, maintaining his innocence.

In retrying the case, federal prosecutors dropped a number of charges against Blagojevich, including racketeering charges and charges against Blagojevich’s brother, co-defendant Robert Blagojevich.

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Blagojevich was arrested a month before Obama took office in January 2009. The Illinois State Legislature impeached and removed him from office that same year. The state’s lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, a Democrat, succeeded him as governor. 

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who eventually won Obama’s former seat, issued a statement on the verdict.

“Today’s verdict is a stark reminder that no one is above the law,” Kirk said. “This decision is the culmination of a tumultuous two and a half years for the people of Illinois, and Rod Blagojevich must now face the consequences of his corrupt actions.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a more somber statement. 

“I hope today’s verdict finally draws this sad and sordid chapter in Illinois history to a close,” he said.


—This story was updated at 8:08 p.m.