Jury Finds Blagojevich Guilty Of Corruption
After deliberating for nine days, a jury found former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty of corruption.
The Chicago Sun Timesreports Blagojevich said he was "disappointed" and "stunned" after the verdict was read. He said he and his wife were going home to talk to their daughters.
Blagojevich was found guilty of 17 of 20 counts against him, including of trying to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat.
Blagojevich showed no reaction as the jury found him guilty on 17 of 20 counts against him. He then sat back in his chair with his lips pursed and looked toward his wife Patti with disappointment on face. The jury deadlocked on two counts and found him not guilty of one count.
As he left his Ravenswood Manor home for the courtroom today, Blagojevich had told reporters, "My hands are shaking, my knees are weak." He said he was praying for the best. "It's in God's hands."
WGN-TV reported during their live coverage that Blagojevich's wife, Patti, started crying as the verdict was read and she reacted to each count.
The AP provides some background on the trial:
He testified for seven days, denying wrongdoing. Prosecutors said he lied and the proof was on FBI wiretaps. Those included a widely parodied clip in which Blagojevich calls the Senate opportunity "f------ golden."
Update at 3:34 p.m. ET. The Guilty Counts:
From the AP: Blagojevich was found guilty of attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe, wire fraud, bribery conspiracy, bribery and extortion conspiracy. He was acquitted of one charge of bribery and the jury deadlocked on two counts of attempted extortion.
Update at 3:41 p.m. ET. The Conclusion Of A Spectacle:
The verdict appeared to be the conclusion, at last, to the spectacle of Mr. Blagojevich's political career, which began its spiraling descent shortly after Mr. Obama was elected president in November 2008. A month after Election Day, Mr. Blagojevich, who under state law was required to pick a new senator to replace Mr. Obama, was arrested, and federal agents revealed that they had secretly recorded hundreds of hours of damaging phone calls by him and his advisers.
For Democrats here, in a state government controlled almost entirely by Democrats, the final chapter could not come soon enough. By turns, Illinois residents had been mortified by the saga, amused by its circus-like antics and, most recently, weary of the whole thing.
Update at 3:53 p.m. ET. Assessing The Sentence:
NPR's Cheryl Corley reports that if Blagojevich is given a maximum sentence on all of the charges he's been convicted of, he could face as much as 300 years in prison. "We're not sure if he'll receive that amount, but he does indeed face a tough sentence," said Cheryl.
Update at 4:03 p.m. ET. Reaction From Blagojevich:
"Patti and I are obviously very disappointed," Blagojevich said outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced. "I, quite frankly, am stunned."
He said he and his wife planned to head home to talk with their daughters.
Update at 4:56 p.m. ET. Video of Blagojevich's Remarks:
Update at 5:00 p.m. ET. Jury Speaks:
The Chicago Sun-Times reports on what the jury said after the trial:
The jury forewoman — a Naperville resident who is a retired director of music and liturgy at a church — said jurors sent a message with their verdict about the state of politics in Illinois.
A second juror said Blagojevich's personality, on display when he testified in his own defense, made it harder to convict him.
"I think because he was personable, it made it hard to separate [that] from what we had to do as jurors," that juror said. "We had to put aside whether we liked him or didn't like him and just go by the evidence presented to us."
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