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Illinois governor escapes 23 charges of corruption

Rod Blagojevich found guilty of lying to the FBI, but the jury is deadlocked on every other charge.

A triumphant Rod Blagojevich may still face a retrial on the 23 charges on which the jury was deadlocked at 11-1.
Image: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

THE FORMER GOVERNOR of Illinois, who faced 24 corruption charges after it emerged he had tried to auction off the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama, has been found guilty of one charge – but no verdict has been returned on the other 23.

While the jury of 12 found ‘Blago’ guilty of lying to the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption, it was deadlocked at 11-1 on the remaining charges including wire-tapping, bribery, extortion charges and racketeering.

“This jury shows you that the government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me,” a triumphant Blagojevich said afterward. “They could not prove I did anything wrong – except for one nebulous charge from five years ago.”

After the findings were announced, individual jurors began to share their frustrations at how what they felt were certain convictions were blocked by a single juror who could not be convinced of his guilt.

“I myself am not happy with the way this ended,” said one. “Based on the case that was presented, I do feel that there was guilt on more than three-quarters of the counts. I think in the end, based on what happened today, the people of the state just did not have justice served.”

Another said he had Blago “guilty on all counts”. A third said the allegations relating to the auction of Obama’s senate seat “was the most obvious” offence.

All three, however, laid the blame for the failure to convict the governor – who was impeached over the charges – at the feet of one juror, who they wouldn’t name.

“She just didn’t see it like we all did,” one said. “At a certain point there was no changing… You can’t make somebody see something they don’t see.”

The judge has declared a mistrial on the outstanding 23 charges and the local government attorney is expected to file for a retrial. Blagojevich could yet face a prison sentence for his single conviction.

As the governor of the state represented by Obama in the Senate, Blagojevich was entitled to appoint anyone he liked to the seat Obama was vacating after he was elected president in November 2008.

He was arrested a month afterward, when it was alleged that he had attempted to essentially auction off Obama’s seat.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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