A jury of 11 women and one man found former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty Monday on 17 counts of corruption. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five to 20 years, though experts believe he'll serve between 10 and 15 years.
He was found not guilty on a sole count, soliciting a bribe on the Tollway shakedown.
After the verdicts, Blagojevich stopped to speak briefly before he went home, saying if there's anything he's learned from this trial, it's that he shouldn't talk so much.
"Patti and I are obviously very disappointed; frankly, I am stunned," Blagojevich said. "We want to get home to our little girls and sort things out. I'm sure I'll be seeing you guys soon."
Blagojevich was found guilty on charges of selling the senate seat, shaking down Children’s Memorial Hospital, shaking down racetrack owner John Johnston and attempted extortion of the building executive in the Tollway shakedown. Paired with a conviction on lying to the FBI from his first trial, he faces a maximum 305 years in prison, though his sentence will likely be much shorter.
The defense was expected to file an appeal to the verdict.
As the first verdict was read, Patti Blagojevich put her head on her brother's shoulder. Blagojevich sat with his hands folded on the table, looking at jurors who were not looking back at him. Once court was adjourned, Patti and Rod Blagojevich hugged and kissed.
Blagojevich's brother spoke with the media from Nashville Monday, and although he wouldn't comment on when he last spoke with Rod, he expressed his disappointment with the verdict.
"This is a sad day for my brother and our family. This is a Blagojevich family tragedy," said Rob Blagojevich, who was his brother's co-defendent during the first trial. "I know Rod and Patti are extremely attentive loving and caring parents. They're going to figure out what's best for their daughters and how to deal with the absence of their father. It's new territory for them and it's new territory for me as a brother and their uncle." Prosecutors chose not to refile charges against Rob Blagojevich after the jury in the first trial was deadlocked.
The jury delivered the verdict on its 10th day of deliberations, more than two months after the trial began.
Jurors only reached a unanimous decision on 18 of the 20 counts of the indictment and were deadlocked on the remaining two, counts 11 and 16.
In a press conference after they announced their verdict, jurors agreed that the senate seat charges were the most clear, and the school shakedown and Tollway shakedown were the least. Ultimately, the forewoman of the jury said they were confident they had gone by the evidence to reach a fair verdict, and she said Illinois should be proud.
"One thing we learned from the first trial was that hung juries happen all the time in federal court, but we did try to slim things down," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. "When a governor tries to sell a Senate seat, tries to shake down Children's Hospital, that's an affront to the citizens."
After they announced their verdict and were polled on the counts, Judge James Zagel praised the jurors for their service and sent them to the jury room so he could speak with them about some matters. Afterward, jurors elected to hold a press conference with the media.
The prosecution did not ask Blagojevich be taken into custody, but asked a bond to be put in place, travel restrictions implemented and a fast sentencing date set. Zagel said he would begin the presentencing investigation soon.
Zagel ordered Blagojevich’s assets be secured in seven days for bond.
Zagel imposed a travel restriction on Blagojevich that he may not travel outside the Northern District of Illinois without permission of the court, but Zagel said that did not mean he would never grant an exception.
Politicians began weighing in on the verdict almost immediately, including Judy Baar Topinka, who Blagojevich defeated in the 2006 gubernatorial election.
"I find his behavior reprehensible and am personally pleased to see him held responsible," Topinka said. "Through his unconscionable behavior and reckless leadership, Blagojevich inflicted damage on Illinois that will take years, if not generations, to repair."
“The guilty verdict against former Governor Rod Blagojevich closes a long, embarrassing chapter for the citizens of Illinois. He deserves everything he’s going to get,” Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said.
"Unfortunately, Blagojevich's verdict and punishment will not restore statewide -- much less nationwide -- certainty in Illinois," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Joliet).
At his first trial, jurors deliberated for 14 days before convicting him of one count of lying to the FBI. They deadlocked on the remaining 23 counts. On charges of selling the senate seat, however, the jury was 11-1 in favor of conviction.
Based on feedback from the jury, the prosecution simplified its case for the second trial, focusing on five alleged shakedowns and dropping some counts of the original indictment. They also chose not to prosecute Blagojevich’s co-defendant for the first trial, his brother Robert, a second time.
Based on the media frenzy surrounding the jurors’ identities after the first trial, especially the so-called “holdout juror,” Judge James Zagel said he wanted to withhold releasing juror names this time around. He will not release their names until 9 a.m. the day after proceedings wrap, though jurors may choose to hold a press conference and identify themselves after the verdict.
Blagojevich will be sentenced at a later date by Judge James Zagel. The judge left the prosecution time to decide whether they wanted to retry on counts 11 and 16 of the indictment.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons will decide where Blagojevich serves his sentence.
Zagel gave the defense 28 days for post-trial motions, gave the prosecution 21 days to reply to those and then gave the defense 14 more days to reply to those, putting the deadline for post-trial motions at Aug 29.
Blagojevich Found Guilty on 17 Counts | Originally Reported by: myFOXChicago.com
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