Monday, June 27, 2011

Blue State Graft Watch: Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Guilty on 17 of 20 Corruption Charges in Second Trial

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts of corruption at the Federal Courthouse in Chicago Monday afternoon.

This was the former governor's second trial. In 2010, Blagojevich was found not guilty on 23 of 24 charges faced, with the jury finding that the former Land of Lincoln governor guilty of lying to the FBI.

CHICAGO—A federal jury on Monday found former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty of 17 counts of corruption, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

The jury found Mr. Blagojevich not guilty on one of 20 corruption counts in his second trial and deadlocked on two other counts. The verdicts came more than two years after Mr. Blagojevich, 54 years old, was arrested by federal agents.

The verdict was a victory for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who initiated "Operation Board Games" just a few months after Mr. Blagojevich took office. In the hours after the then-governor's arrest, Mr. Fitzgerald said he had "interrupted a political corruption crime spree" and that Mr. Blagojevich had "put a for-sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator."

Mr. Blagojevich is the second consecutive Illinois governor to be convicted of corruption. Gov. George Ryan is currently serving a 6½-year sentence.

Unlike his first trial, in which the former Chicago congressman escaped conviction on 20 of 21 counts, Mr. Blagojevich testified for seven days at his second trial. He said his intent was to use the seat as leverage to pass legislation that would have benefited the residents of Illinois.
Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to fill President Obama's then vacant senate seat in late 2008- an appointment that came after federal investigators recorded a call between the two where Burris was offering to raise funds for the governor in exchange for the Senate seat.

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