Rod Blagojevich guilty of 17 counts of corruption
By Jim Hagerty
CHICAGO– After nine days of deliberating Monday, June 27, a jury convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of 17 counts of corruption, including the charge that the fallen Democrat tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
Blagojevich had faced 20 charges, mostly regarding the Senate seat scandal.
He was also accused extorting campaign contributions from various executives.
The verdict came after Blagojevich testified for seven days, denying the charges while delivery rambling stories of what he described as a troubled life of an immigrant’s son.
Blagojevich, 54, was convicted of 10 counts of wire fraud, two counts of attempted extortion, two counts of conspiracy to solicit a bribe, one count of solicitation of a bribe and two counts of conspiracy to commit extortion.
The jury found the Chicago native not guilty of soliciting bribes regarding the Illinois Tollway Authority and could not reach a verdict on two additional counts of extortion.
Blagojevich already faces five years in prison for lying to federal investigators, the only charge a jury could agree on during his first corruption trial last year.
The case against Blagojevich stems from hundreds of recorded phone calls obtained through FBI wiretaps of his home and offices.
Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008 and impeached by Illinois lawmakers in January 2009.
As the new of the Blagojevich verdict reached state officials, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said the former governor’s corruption charges should prompt ethics reform.
Simon is a former member of the Illinois Reform Commission, which was created in 2009 in the wake of Blagojevich’s arrest and helped pass the state’s first campaign finance limits.
“Illinoisans deserve better,” Simon said. “We must move forward with a renewed focus on ethics reform. It is time to beat back the Illinois culture of corruption, restore integrity to the Land of Lincoln and make sure these crimes never happen again.”
Rod Blagojevich is the second consecutive Illinois governor to be convicted of corruption. His predecessor, George Ryan, was sentenced to 6.5 years in federal prison in September 2006. Ryan’s case led to the convictions of more than 70 former state officials and lobbyists.
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