Blagojevich Jurors Have Reached Partial Verdict

The New York Times on June 27, 2011 released the following:

“CHICAGO — Jurors in the trial of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois who is accused of trying to benefit personally from his selection of a replacement for the United States senate seat once held by President Obama, were expected to announce a verdict on Monday afternoon.

As they began a 10th day of deliberations on Monday morning, they told a federal court judge here that they had reached agreement on 18 of 20 criminal counts against Mr. Blagojevich, but were deadlocked on two others. An announcement of their verdict was expected after 1 p.m. Central.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat whose former aides say once saw himself as a presidential contender, was tried on charges of wire fraud, attempted extortion, bribery, extortion conspiracy and bribery conspiracy.

The trial was Mr. Blagojevich’s second on the charges. Nearly a year ago, another jury deadlocked on all but two of the counts against him.

This jury’s decision may end, at last, the spectacle of Mr. Blagojevich’s spiraling political career, which has played out here since shortly after Mr. Obama was elected president in November 2008.

A month after Election Day, Mr. Blagojevich, who under state law was responsible for picking a new senator to replace Mr. Obama so he could move to the White House, was arrested. Federal agents revealed that they had secretly recorded hundreds of hours of damaging phone calls by him and his advisers.

Mr. Blagojevich, 54, and a lawyer and former state and federal lawmaker, was accused of trying to secure campaign contributions, a cabinet post or a new, high-paying job in exchange for his official acts as governor — whether that was picking a new senator, supporting particular legislation or deciding how to spend state money. He has proclaimed his innocence again and again — on the witness stand, in television interviews and in a memoir he wrote.

The scandal reaffirmed an image Illinois (where corruption, by one university’s estimate, has cost taxpayers more than $300 million a year) has long wished to shed: If Mr. Blagojevich goes to prison, he will be the fourth governor in recent memory to be imprisoned (one of them for acts he committed after leaving office). It was a particularly dramatic fall for Mr. Blagojevich, who campaigned for governor on a reform agenda following a corruption scandal that undid his Republican predecessor, George Ryan, who remains in federal prison.

In Mr. Blagojevich’s earlier trial, he was convicted of a single charge: lying to the F.B.I. about how much he kept track of the details of his campaign’s fund-raising. That conviction carries up to five years in prison.

After the first trial, jurors said the case had been too tangled and too confusing, and it was clear that prosecutors took that message to heart. In the new trial, which began in April, prosecutors offered fewer, simpler charges, a notably boiled down message, and a emphasis on the thought that Mr. Blagojevich did not need to actually complete any deals to be found guilty of crimes for proposing them.

Prosecutors laid out five “schemes” in which they said Mr. Blagojevich tried to get campaign contributions in exchange for supporting racetrack legislation or road projects and pushed for a campaign fund-raiser in exchange for support of a school. But the crimes involved, the prosecutors told jurors again and again, could not have been simpler: Mr. Blagojevich sought personal benefit for public acts.

The stakes of this retrial were apparent. Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (who may be better known nationally as having pursued the C.I.A. leak case against I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney) personally listened to parts of the case even though his assistants were trying it. He took notes on Mr. Blagojevich’s testimony from a room in the courthouse where courtroom proceedings were piped in for reporters and others to hear. James Matsumoto, a retired public television librarian who had served as the jury foreman in the first trial last summer, also attended portions of the case.

For his part at the trial, Mr. Blagojevich did what Mr. Blagojevich likes to do — talk. After offering no defense testimony at all in his first trial, Mr. Blagojevich testified before jurors for seven days, proclaiming his innocence and portraying his taped conversations about matters like who he might appoint to the senate as merely brainstorming, not some sinister plot.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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