August 17th, 2010
01:48 PM ET
12 years ago

Judge: Blagojevich verdict could come this week

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - A verdict in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich could possibly come this week, the judge in the case said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said there is a "possibility" of a verdict this week and asked that the defendants remain within a half-hour travel distance from the courthouse.

Jurors deliberated for a 14th day Tuesday. They had two questions for Zagel - in the first, they asked for a copy of the oath they took when they were sent to deliberate.

The second question was, "If we do not reach a consensus of a specific count, do we leave it blank or report the votes split?" Zagel told jurors if they cannot reach a unanimous verdict on any count, they should write a single statement on each count and each juror should sign the verdict form.

Last week, the jury sent a note to Zagel indicating they were far from reaching a decision. The panel has decided on only two of the 24 counts against Blagojevich, the note said. Jurors failed to agree on 11 counts and had yet to consider 11 others involving wire fraud charges. Zagel encouraged them to continue deliberating and vote on each charge.

The former governor faces charges including racketeering, wire fraud, attempted extortion and bribery. A two-term Democrat, he was removed from office in January 2009 amid accusations that he attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat that had been occupied by Barack Obama before Obama was elected president.

In one conversation recorded by federal agents, Blagojevich told an aide, "I've got this thing, and it's [expletive] golden. I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing."

Conviction on the counts of wire fraud, racketeering and attempted extortion could each bring a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, while a conviction on the count of solicitation of bribery would carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

The maximum penalty for bribery conspiracy and false statements is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Blagojevich's brother, Robert, is standing trial with him on four of the charges.

Robert Blagojevich testified that his brother was "trying to politically work something to his benefit" in handling the Senate appointment but was thinking in terms of political horse-trading, not corruption.

"It didn't seem out of the ordinary, because Obama was taking a lot of people from Illinois with him to D.C.," said Robert Blagojevich, who raised money for his brother. He said the governor "was interested in the idea of being the head of Health and Human Services."

While awaiting trial, the ousted governor asserted his innocence in interviews and on Twitter, as well as during his appearances on the "Celebrity Apprentice" reality show.

- CNN's Katherine Wojtecki contributed to this report.

Filed under: Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. diridi

    it should not and does not matter....just put this guy in jail if found guilty...that's it. I think in our great nation, we need to pass "Term Limits" for all the elected ones...ok. it is a that we can get rid of some junk....pass new laws....and respect the nation...

    August 17, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. golinus

    This comment is ridiculous, especially coming from the inept, incompetent party that preceded over 9/11, got us into an unnecessary, bloody and costly war, passed unfunded huge measures like medicare D, squandered away a huge surplus left to them by democrats by giving it to the wealthy, messed up the economy, got rid of millions of manufacturing jobs, etc, etc. With that record why would we want another republican to ever lead the country? Obama is far more competent that the last 3-4 republican presidents put together (Reagan ia partly excused because his memory was gone by his second term).

    August 17, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |