[JURIST] Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive] pleaded not guilty to corruption charges Tuesday before the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website]. Earlier this month, Blagojevich was indicted [JURIST report] on 16 felony counts, including wire fraud, attempted extortion, racketeering conspiracy, extortion conspiracy, and making false statements. Blagojevich pleaded not guilty on all counts. Also indicted were his brother Robert Blagojevich, who also pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, his former chief of staff John Harris, campaign fundraiser and former fund chairman Christopher Kelly, fundraiser William Cellini, and former general counsel and campaign fund chairman Alonzo Monk. Harris, Kelly, and Cellini will be arraigned Thursday, and Monk is scheduled for arraignment next week.
In January, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office. Blagojevich is the first Illinois governor to be impeached and removed from office. Blagojevich had boycotted [JURIST report] the impeachment proceedings against him, appearing only at the end of the Senate hearings to make a final plea to remain in office. Blagojevich and Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December.