Chicago, IL - Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on Monday (June 27) of 18 of 20 counts against him, including the charge that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat.
Mr. Blagojevich had faced a number of allegations, including what prosecutors said was a scheme to shake down executives for campaign donations. He was convicted on all charges regarding the Senate seat.
The Jury delivered its verdicts Monday after deliberating nine days.
Mr. Blagojevich testified for seven days, denying wrongdoing. Prosecutors said he lied and the proof was on FBI wiretaps. Those included a widely parodied clip in which Mr. Blagojevich calls the Senate opportunity “f------ golden.”
Mr. Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008, after the FBI had wiretapped hundreds of his telephone calls at work and home. The Illinois Legislature impeached him a month later.
The Blagojevich saga exploded into a national scandal highlighting Illinois' reputation for graft and flatout corruption. The convictions mean Mr. Blagojevich is the second consecutive Illinois governor facing a prison sentence for corruption. His predecessor, former Gov. George Ryan, is serving a 6 1/2 year sentence.
The case also became a media spectacle, as the indicted governor and his wife appeared on TV reality shows, and as the loquacious Mr. Blagojevich made theatrical appearances daily outside the courthouse during the first trial to profess his innocence and hug his remaining fans.
Jurors in his first trial deadlocked on all but one charge, convicting Mr. Blagojevich of lying to the FBI. Mr. Blagojevich already faces up to five years for the lying conviction.
Both trials hinged on whether the former governor's bold ramblings to aides and others on the telephone was just talk, as he insisted, or part of “a political crime spree,” in the words of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
In a case full of high-level name dropping, defence attorneys in the retrial pulled into court Chicago's new Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Emanuel's appearance on the witness stand, the most anticipated by a Chicago mayor in a federal courtroom in decades, was over in just five minutes. Mr. Jackson was done in about half an hour.
Overall, though, the retrial had far less of the circus-like atmosphere that accompanied the initial trial. Mr. Blagojevich himself also was more subdued this time.
Other major differences were in the prosecution's dramatically streamlined case, and the fact that the defence put on a case after not doing so the first time around.
Prosecutors dropped racketeering counts against the ex-governor and dismissed all charges against his then co-defendant brother, Robert Blagojevich. They presented just three weeks of evidence — half the time taken at the first trial. They called fewer witnesses, asked fewer questions and played shorter excerpts of FBI wiretaps that underpin most of the charges.
There was also a new variable at the retrial: The testimony from Mr. Blagojevich himself. At the first trial, the defence rested without calling any witnesses and Mr. Blagojevich didn't testify despite vowing that he would.
Retrial jurors saw a deferential Mr. Blagojevich look them in the eyes and deny every allegation, telling them his talk on the recordings was mere brainstorming.