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White-Collar Crime

Ex-Gov of Ill. Could Be Alone at Trial as Other Defendants Sprint for Exit

Posted Nov 16, 2009 3:11 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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It looks like the impeached former governor of Illinois is likely to be all alone when his federal corruption case goes to trial next year.

Although there were six defendants in the case when the charges were announced earlier this year, Rod Blagojevich's brother, Rob, is the only remaining co-defendant whose trial hasn't been severed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

And Rob Blagojevich doesn't want to be tried with his brother, either, says his lawyer, Michael Ettinger. He plans to move for a separate trial, citing potential prejudice after U.S. District Judge James Zagel's recent agreement to sever the trial of businessman William Cellini.

As discussed in an earlier Sun-Times article, Cellini contended from the start that his case, which concerns an alleged shakedown of a movie producer trying to do business with the state, had nothing to do with the charges against the ex-governor.

There is, however, an apparent common theme of alleged personal benefit obtained from state connections; Rod Blagojevich is accused, for example, of seeking to barter the vacant U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.

Two of the other three original defendants, John Harris and Lon Monk, have pleaded guilty. And the third, Christopher Kelly, apparently committed suicide. Kelly was the co-defendant most closely linked to Cellini, the newspaper notes.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Ex-Gov of Illinois, 5 Others, Charged in Alleged Obama Senate Seat Scam"

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