Blagojevich guilty of false statements to FBI, jury hung on other 23 counts

[JURIST] Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive] was found guilty Tuesday of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] was deadlocked on 23 additional charges. The jury deliberated for 14 days after the 11-week trial but was unable to reach a consensus on all but one of the charges, which included attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by US President Barack Obama, making appointments based on anticipated campaign contributions and taking kickbacks from a number of companies. According to reports, there was a lone holdout [Chicago Tribune report] on the convictions regarding the sale of Obama's Senate seat. The female juror allegedly stated that due to the lack of a "smoking gun" she was unable to convict Blagojevich of the crimes. Blagojevich continues to deny the false statements charge for which he could spend up to five years in prison, and plans to appeal the conviction. The prosecution has said they are already preparing for a retrial on the 23 undecided counts. Presiding judge James Zagel has scheduled a hearing [NPR report] to discuss the retrial for August 26.

In June, Zagel denied a request [JURIST report] to delay the Blagojevich trial in order for his defense lawyers to review a decision by the US Supreme Court [official website] limiting the scope of the federal honest services fraud statute [18 USC § 1346 text]. Zagel held that the trial delay was unnecessary because the Supreme Court's decision in Skilling v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] was unlikely to affect Blagojevich's case. In April, the prosecution was ordered [JURIST report] to release a 91-page government proffer outlining evidence in its case against Blagojevich. In March, Blagojevich pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to eight amended corruption charges. In January 2009, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office. Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008.

 

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