Author Topic: Blago jury convicts on one count, hangs on 23  (Read 852 times)

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Offline Confederate Kahanist

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Blago jury convicts on one count, hangs on 23
« on: August 18, 2010, 09:12:34 AM »


8/17/10 5:48 PM EDT

Rod Blagojevich was convicted on one count of making false statements to federal authorities on Tuesday but the jury could not
reach a verdict on the 23 other counts facing the former Illinois
governor, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors will retry Blagojevich
on at least some of the 23 other counts, including extortion, bribery
and conspiracy on allegations that he converted his office into what
prosecutors called a “corrupt ring” that included an attempt to trade
the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in exchange for jobs
and money.
Jurors twice told a federal judge over 14 days of deliberation that they
were unable to come to a unanimous agreement on the vast majority of
the charges against Blagojevich after a two-month trial.

As it stands, the verdict appears to be a big victory for Blagojevich
who right now faces a maximum of five years in prison — a significantly
lesser sentence than he could have faced if any of the other numerous
corruption charges had resulted in a conviction.

The verdict caps one of the most tawdry, and at times comic, corruption
cases in recent political history, with a clownish and deluded defendant
who relished rather than resented the attention, a colorful and
often-profane script highlighted by FBI wiretaps and a frequent
references to the president of the United States and two of his top

While Blagojevich declared repeatedly before the trial that he couldn't
wait to tell his side of the story, he never testified. His lawyer, in
closing arguments, said in essence that his client was too dumb to be
taken seriously as a criminal.

“No one’s going to say he’s the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s
not corrupt,” said Blagojevich’s attorney, Sam Adam Jr. “Think about who
he was trying to extort. The president of the United States? Give me a

Not comic at all were the crimes outlined in the indictment and during
the trial. The “message was 'pay up or no action,’" Assistant U.S.
Attorney Carrie Hamilton told the jury. It was a "shakedown," she said.

In addition to trying to sell the Senate seat, he was accused of
demanding money for himself, his campaigns and his wife, attempting to
extort the CEO of a children’s hospital, a racetrack owner, a road
construction executive, and, indirectly, Rahm Emanuel. He was accused,
as well, of offering to help the Chicago Tribune sell the Cubs if the
paper would fire the editorial board that wrote critically of him.

According to the indictment, he did some of these things even after he knew that his co-conspirators — including his brother, his
chief of staff and business associates — were being investigated and
watched by prosecutors.

The numerous charges — racketeering, bribery, conspiracy to commit
bribery, attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion — were
extensively documented in the 113-page indictment and in testimony that
pulled the curtain back on a vain politician, obsessing over his own
political stature in private while publicly pronouncing his commitment
to “the people” and fantasizing about perhaps becoming U.N. ambassador
or even president.

Tapes of the foul-mouthed Blagojevich recorded by FBI wiretaps became a cult hit. Ring tones of the former governor’s
greatest hits from the indictment posted by the State Journal-Register
in Springfield went viral and were widely downloaded.

“I’ve got this thing, and it’s f------ golden. And I’m just not giving
it up for f------ nothing,” Blagojevich says describing Obama’s Senate
seat in one of the more popular ring tones.

“Only 13 percent of you all out there think I’m doing a good job. So f--- all of you,” he says in another.

On the way to his trial, Blagojevich milked the spotlight and the
strange freedom provided to a politician removed from office and
awaiting trial.

He hosted a weekly radio show and fell asleep before getting fired by
Donald Trump on NBC’s “The Apprentice.” His wife ate a tarantula “as an
act of love” and bonded with the stars of MTV’s “The Hills” on the
reality show “I’m a celebrity ... Get me out of here!”

His trademark line whenever meeting a new person during the nearly
two-years between being arrested and his convicted was: “Rod
Blagojevich, innocent on all charges.”

By a unanimous 59-0 vote, the Illinois Senate removed Blagojevich from office on Jan. 29, 2009.

Blagojevich blamed his political opponents for his removal, claiming
that it was retribution his legislative push to provide health care to
low-income families.

He has also blamed variously Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm
Emanuel and White House adviser Valerie Jarrett for his woes.

Blagojevich threatened to expose top White House staffers as equally
corrupt, though his legal team never called any of them as witnesses.

Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, John Harris, testified during the
trial that Obama knew Blagojevich was “willing to make the appointment
of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he's asked for.”

But that uncorroborated statement was as close as the governor’s team
got to implicating the White House, which never had to endure the
scrutiny that Republicans hoped would befall Obama’s administration
during the trial.

Instead, the trial was mostly an embarrassment for Blagojevich.

It was revealed that he and his wife had spent more than $400,000 on
clothes during his term as governor while racking up $200,000 in
consumer debt.

Tapes of the governor show that it occurred to him that he might be
named United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations in exchange for
the Senate seat, and that he had considered appointing talk show host
Oprah to the seat.

Towards the end of the trial, even Blagojevich had to admit that he talked “too much.”
Chad M ~ Your rebel against white guilt