CHICAGO (Reuters) – A jury convicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich yesterday of corruption for trying to trade the US senate seat once held by President Barack Obama for financial and political gain.
Blagojevich, a two-term Democrat thrown out of office in 2009, was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts. Several of the convictions call for prison terms of up to 20 years, though he is likely to receive a lesser penalty.
“I, frankly, am stunned,” the normally effusive Blagojevich said after the verdict. “There’s not more to say other than we want to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and try to sort things out.”
The conviction of Blagojevich, 54, contrasted with the inconclusive end to the former governor’s first trial in August 2010 when jurors deadlocked on 23 of 24 counts against him. He was convicted of lying to investigators, and prosecutors opted to retry him.
In seven days on the witness stand, Blagojevich insisted he was merely engaged in political gamesmanship and did not intend to sell the Senate seat or anything else. Instead, he said he was attempting to gain leverage to advance his policy agenda and admitted a tendency to talk too much.
After exhaustive testimony, Judge James Zagel finally instructed defense lawyers to get their client to shut up.