Daily Archives: August 17, 2010

Blagojevich Taunts U.S. Attorney: Guilty On Just 1 Count Out Of 24

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich leaves the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse after the verdict in his corruption trial today. (Michael Tercha / Tribune)

After a federal jury convicted him of just one count — lying to the FBI — and deadlocked on 23 other counts, Rod Blagojevich declared his innocence today and defiantly taunted prosecutors.

“The government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me, and on every charge but one, they could not prove that I broke any laws except one, a nebulous charge from five years ago,” he told a crush of reporters at the Dirksen Federal Building this afternoon. “I did not lie to the FBI. I told the truth from the very beginning.”

“We have a prosecutor who has wasted and wanted to spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to take me away from my family and my home,” he continued, accusing the government of persecuting him.

In a theatrical burst of emotion, Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Sr. went after U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

“This guy Fitzgerald is a master at indicting people for noncriminal activity,” he said. “This guy is nuts.”

Neighbors gather at Blago home: ‘I came out to cheer’

August 17, 2010 6:19 PM
Rod Blagojevich’s neighbors in Ravenswood Manor gathered near his house this afternoon as news spread that a jury had deadlocked on most counts against him.

Some of them took pictures of the five police officers huddled on the corner and the reporters camped in front of the house.

Before the verdict was read, Patti Blagojevich’s sister Deborah Mell arrived with the Blagojevichs’ youngest daughter, who was wearing purple owl pajamas and carrying a colorful thermos.

Springfield reacts to Blago jury verdict

August 17, 2010 6:18 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Democratic and Republican political leaders are saying that today’s deadlocked jury in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial doesn’t mean the former governor shouldn’t have been impeached and removed from office.

“While jurors deadlocked on many charges, they clearly confirmed the former governor’s pattern of dishonesty,” said Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago. “As I said last January on the day the Senate delivered our verdict, this is a sad occasion. There’s no pleasure or relief in this outcome.

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said she’s worried the state hasn’t enacted enough ethics reforms in the wake of Blagojevich’s ouster.

“One of my biggest concerns is that the Blagojevich defense team may have convinced people that he was just practicing politics as usual in Illinois,” said Radogno, of Lemont. If that is the case, it is a real indictment of the political leadership in this state. If there is one thing that elected officials need to do in Illinois, it is to send a strong signal that the politics of the past are over, regardless of what the final verdict may be in the Blagojevich trial.

Republican Judy Baar Topinka, who lost to Blagojevich in the 2006 governor’s race as corruption allegations swirled, said she was “disappointed” in the verdict.

“Justice will prevail,” Topinka said in a statement. “It will just take longer than many of us hoped.”

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Blagojevich Verdict – Not A Single Conviction Related Directly To The Famous Tapes

Rod Blagojevich and His Team Speak To Media After Verdict

Blago starts off his remarks looking and sounding subdued.”I didn’t do anything wrong.” “This jury just showed you…the could not prove that I did anything wrong….except for one nebulous charge from five years ago.”  “This is a persecution.” “We have a prosecutor who wants to spend tens of millions of dollars” to keep prosecuting me.  “They threw everything they could at me.” “This fight is a lot bigger than Patti and me. It’s a fight for the very freedom that Americans enjoy.  “Were going to appeal that lying decision and we’re hopeful that the law is on our side as regards to that.” Ends angry.

Sam Adam Jr. (Attorney): Why should the people of Illinois and the taxpayers in this county pay me…. When we’ve already been through trial?” “Why are we spending $25 to $30 million on a retrial when you haven’t proven it the first time. Aren’t there more important things out here?” Suggests giving prosecution expenses “back to the people of Illinois….Is this worth it? That’s what I ask the people out there. Is this worth it?

Sam Adam Sr. (Attorney): Everybody knows (Patti Blagojevich)  worked for her money. Everybody knows that….”This guy Fitzgerald is a master at indicting people for non-criminal behavior. This guy is going wild. This guy is nuts.” Tries to exploit that he didn’t put on a defense.   Won’t commit to whether the same team will defend him.  Refers to the “$10s and $20 millions of dollars” the U.S. Atty’s office spent on the trial.  “The crime spree was Fitzgerald violating people’s Constitutional rights. And that was stopped today by the jury.”

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Blagojevich Verdict In – Guilty On 1 Count Out Of 24 (Lying To FBI)



Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 4:28 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

The jury has found former Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on just one of the 24 corruption counts against him — count 24, making false statement to the FBI.

That count alleges that the ex-governor lied to federal agents in 2005 when they questioned him about “pay to play” politics. He told the agents he kept his fund-raising and politics separate.

That charge carries a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine.

This means the jury was divided on all 23 remaining counts against the ex-governor, and on all four counts against his brother, Robert.

Judge James Zagel said he would declare a mistrial on those 23 counts. He said he would give prosecutors until Sept. 7 to decide if they wanted to retry the case, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar wasted no time in responding.

“It is absolutely my intention to retry this … as quickly as possible,” Schar said.

When the verdict was read, there wasn’t a visible sense of relief at the defense table. Rod Blagojevich looked at the jury and shook his head. It appears the defense was hoping for some acquittals.

After the jury left, Sam Adam Jr. sat next to Rod and put his arm around him, looking as if he were consoling him. He now has to go through this again.

Judge James Zagel: “I’ll be bringing out the jury shortly’


Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 4:13 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

Judge James Zagel has entered the courtroom. He and the attorneys are discussing the forfeiture proceedings, and whether they will be held tomorrow or directly following the verdict announcement.

The six alternate jurors who were dismissed at the beginning of the deliberations are seated in the courtroom, opposite the jury box. They had previously asked to be present for the verdict’s reading.

FBI chief Rob Grant and Patrick Fitzgerald are also seated in the courtroom gallery.

Rod is seated, looking at lawyers, hands clasped, hands drumming.

Robert just leaned over to his wife, Julie, put his hands on hers and whispered something reassuring. She nodded.

Zagel is off the bench, saying, “I will be bringing out the jury shortly.”

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

The clerk of court has just sent official word — there is a verdict in the Blagojevich trial.

By now, nearly everyone is assembled in the courtroom, awaiting the verdict.

Robert Blagojevich and his won, Alex, walked in at about 4:00. The ex-governor’s brother smiled to the cadre of reporters who are cordoned off in the courtroom.

Official word: Verdict to be announced in Blagojevich trial


Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 4:05 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

The clerk of court has just sent official word — there is a verdict in the Blagojevich trial.

Rod and Patti Blagojevich arrive at courthouse; verdict appears imminent


Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 3:36 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

The courthouse is preparing for the arrival of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, for what is expected to be the conclusion of his corruption trial.

The security barricades have gone up outside in anticipation of their arrival, and they’re lined by a throng of cameras.

Rod’s father-son defenders, Sam Adam Sr. and Jr., have just gone through the metal detectors. They appeared harried, saying nothing to the press.

Rod and Patti arrive at about 3:45. She’s dressed in black pants and a black and white shirt; he’s in a blue suit with a blue tie.

The ex-governor wave and kisses his wife on the cheek. A man shouts out, asking if there’s a verdict. Rod is silent.

Upstairs, Rod and Patti walk onto the 25th floor holding hands. Rod smiles at the media.

“Say a prayer for us,” he says.

Everyone appears to have gathered — it’s 3:50, and Robert and Julie Blagojevich have just arrived.

Blagojevich trial: Rod and Rob Blagojevich told to come to court


Natasha Korecki

on August 17, 2010 3:14 PM

Reporting with Dave McKinney, Sarah Ostman and Chris Fusco

Lawyers for both Robert and Rod Blagojevich say they were summoned to court and were told that Rod and Robert Blagojevich should appear there too.

Michael Ettinger and Sam Adam Jr. both said they weren’t given any additional information.

Behind-the-scenes signals are that a conclusion is imminent and will be read in one hour.

Barricades are being set up outside where Rod Blagojevich walks into the courthouse and Rod Blagojevich has already left his home.

The development comes on the 14th day of deliberations in the case and after jurors signaled this morning that some discord remained on the 12-member panel.

Jurors today asked for a copy of the oath they took when they were seated as well as instructions on how to fill out their verdict form if they can’t reach a unanimous decision on a certain count or counts.

Blagojevich trial: Lawyers are summoned to courtroom


Natasha Korecki

on August 17, 2010 3:06 PM

Lawyers in Rod Blagojevich’s case were asked to head to the courtroom.

Details coming.

Defense attorney: Jurors’ tempers are frayed, expects to see a verdict this afternoon


Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 12:22 PM

Reporting with Mark Brown, Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, said after court that he interpreted the latest communication with the jury as “all that’s left is to sign the jury forms.”

Ettinger said he expects the jury to return later today.

Asked about the jury requesting a copy of its oath, Ettinger said he expects “someone is going to be read that card and told they are violating their oath.”

He said he had never seen such a request and he took it as a sign of frayed tempers.

“They’ve gone as far as they can go,” he said.

Blagojevich trial: Jury signals they are close to a verdict


Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 11:42 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

It appears the jury may be on the verge of announcing a verdict.

The six men and six women sent out a note this morning asking for two things — first, a copy of the oath they took when they were seated, and second, instructions on how to fill out their verdict form if they can’t reach a unanimous decision on a certain count or counts.

Zagel said he would provide the oath and offer directions on how to complete the forms.

The jury’s request for a copy of the oath could signal a new level of division within the group.

The prosecution pushed the judge to send an additional instruction asking the jury to “make every effort to make a unanimous verdict” — but Zagel declined.

Instead, the judge said he would send a note stating, “I remind you that in addition to the oath, you have my instructions, which must govern your deliberations and decisions.”

Zagel recognized that these questions show a verdict is near.

“Because the tenor of the note indicates there is at least a possibility a verdict may be returned this week, I’ve entered an order requiring the defendants to be no more than a half-hour journey to the courthouse,” the judge said.

Attorneys filed into Judge James Zagel’s courtroom at around 11:35, after beginning the hearing in a private room with the defendants on the phone.

While the outcome is still anybody’s guess, the attorneys displayed definite body language. The prosecutors appeared serious and dour; the defense team, on the other hand, appeared more jovial than usual. Rod Blagojevich’s attorney, Sam Adam Jr., was even spotted flashing a grin.

Blagojevich trial: Jury sends out another question, defendants asked to “call in” to hearing


Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 10:58 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

It has just been announced that the jury has sent out another question. They’ll be discussing it in open court shortly — more information to come.

Judge James Zagel has asked Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, to be available by phone for the hearing.

Yesterday, the jury asked for the testimony of onetime-Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk, which the judge agreed to give them.

Today is deliberation Day 14.

Sam Adam Jr.: I’d want Danny DeVito to play me in a movie


Sarah Ostman

on August 17, 2010 10:42 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Attorneys are gathering outside Judge Zagel’s courtroom for a morning check-in — although the reason for the meeting is unclear. A crowd of reporters is chatting while they wait; prosecutors are camped out down the roped-off hallway, outside the judge’s closed door.

Earlier, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. chatted with the media in the cafeteria downstairs. He said Rod Blagojevich remains mostly homebound while he awaits the verdict, but is keeping up his jogging routine.

Someone asked Adam an off-the-cuff question: If this story were turned into a movie, what actor would play you?

His answer: Danny DeVito.

Blagojevich lawyer: “None of the pundits predicted this.”


Natasha Korecki

on August 17, 2010 9:25 AM

It’s Day 14 of the deliberations in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption case and Sam Adam Jr. continues on a roller coaster that on the same day has given him a shot of adrenaline, then leaves him numb.

Reading the tea leaves with how the jury is leaning has left the entire defense team a bit jittery, he says.

“None of us have nails left,” he said this morning.

Adam, who plans to go to the courthouse this morning and possibly give a statement to the media, said no one expected the jury to take this long.

“They said we were going to get steamrolled,” Sam Adam Jr. said. “None of the pundits predicted this.”

“People said we were nuts, we were crazy for having him be public, for having him make statements, for having him make the tactics we were taking and not pleading him,” Adam said of allowing Rod Blagojevich to appear on just about every news talk show in production.

Going into trial, Adam said he was told time and again that Blagojevich was toast.

And now, the jury has deliberated for 14 days — nearly half of the entirety of the length of the trial.

The jury last week indicated they were deadlocked on every count except for two in the 24-count indictment. They were told to get back to work and yesterday asked for testimony of a former top aide to Blagojevich.

“You got to figure there’s someone in there fighting for you,” Adam said. “These people took their jobs seriously. No matter what the outcome — and I think it’s going to be a not guilty — these people have done their American civic duty.”

Adam, who lost more than 30 pounds during the trial, said he managed to eat a full meal over the weekend. “Maybe I’m getting used to it.”

Blagojevich trial: Jury moves to day 14 — how divided is this group?


Natasha Korecki

on August 17, 2010 8:00 AM

Rod Blagojevich’s jury has moved to its 14th day of deliberations —
that’s nearly half as long as the entirety of the trial, which stretched about 30 days (counting jury selection, openings, closings and jury instructions).

It’s clear there’s a division in the jury room.

But what’s the division?

Since last week’s initial note from the panel, defense lawyers surmised that the camps were pretty well split. And the higher the number of holdouts, the better it is for the defense, since it will mean that many more people would have to be convinced to go over to the prosecution’s side.

Judge James Zagel only read a portion of last week’s first note from the jurors. The portion not read, I’m told, led attorneys to believe the 12 were pretty well split.

They told Zagel they could not agree on any count that involved a “specific act,” and said that only part of the group believed the government proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Yesterday they signaled they were headed back to do more work, asking for a transcript.

To Read Previous Trial Updates click The Blagojevich Brothers Still Waiting ….. For A Verdict

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