Criminal Justice

Blagojevich Found Guilty of 17 Corruption Counts

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Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was tried on 20 criminal counts ranging from wire fraud to conspiracy to soliciting a bribe, was convicted on 17 of those counts this afternoon.

A status hearing for Blagojevich’s sentencing is set for Aug. 1, the Associated Press reported. U.S. District Judge James Zagel ruled that Blagojevich must not travel outside of the Northern District of Illinois without court permission before then. Blagojevich is expected to ask for a mistrial and then appeal, WLS-TV reported.

Blagojevich was accused of trying to sell now-President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat after Obama was elected to the presidency in 2008, as well as pressuring executives into making donations to his campaign in exchange for state business, WLS-TV reported. Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois senate in early 2009. Blagojevich was acquitted on one count of bribery, and the jury deadlocked on two counts of attempted extortion, the New York Times reported, including the count accusing Blagojevich of shaking down then U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is now the mayor of Chicago.

Last summer, Blagojevich was found guilty in federal court of one count of lying to the FBI. The jury couldn’t reach a decision on the other 23 counts, and the government decided to retry them. But the Chicago Tribune noted that the government decided against pursuing complicated racketeering charges against Blagojevich and dropped charges against Blagojevich’s brother and chief fundraiser, Robert Blagojevich. The Tribune also posted a count-by-count breakdown of the verdict.

The Chicago Sun-Times notes that Blagojevich is the fourth Illinois governor to be convicted of a felony charge. Otto Kerner, governor from 1961 to 1968, was convicted of bribery related to his tenure as governor and sentenced to three years; Dan Walker, governor from 1973 to 1977, was convicted of bank fraud charges after leaving office and sentenced to one-and-a-half years; and George Ryan, governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of 18 criminal counts related to his time as governor and Illinois secretary of state and is currently serving six-and-a-half years in prison.

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