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Tag: Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Blago: Just Another Crooked Ill. Pol or Someone to Be Made an Example of?

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich may have gotten an added stretch of freedom when a federal judge  in Chicago decided this week to delay his Oct. 6 sentencing date. But legal observers are convinced the reprieve is only temporary and that he’ll get some serious prison time. Predictions range from 8 to 25 years.

“I’m just giving voice to whats generally been a consensus in the community,” said Rodger Heaton, a former U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois and currently with the law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson, “but I’ve been hearing a projected estimate of eight to fifteen years. Some people have also said ten or 11.”

Dick Simpson, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois-Chicago and frequent commentator on local news, echoes those sentiments.

“My guess is ten to 15 years,” Simpson said in an phone interview. “You have to look at other similar cases, and in particular I’m looking at former Governor George Ryan.” Ryan, the Illinois governor immediately preceding Blagojevich, is serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence after being convicted on federal corruption charges in 2006, though sentencing guidelines counseled for more.

“You have to look at both, and you figure how much worse one was than the other,” said Simpson.

Blagojevich engaged with the national media in a way few criminal defendants have. He went on a lengthy tour of popular television news and talk shows like the Late Show with David Letterman and the Daily Show and pleaded his innocence.

Ex-U.S. Atty. Heaton/law firm photo

“In a sense, I have seen public officials who go on trial try to influence public perception,” said ex-U.S. Attorney Heaton, but Blagojevich’s errant behavior was something different. “I have not seen someone go on television talk shows, on reality shows,” the way Blagojevich has. “It is very unique to engage the popular media the way he has done.”

Though there is nothing in the federal sentencing guidelines that talks specifically about that sort of media engagement, says Heaton, it may significantly influence the sentencing judge’s perceptions of Blagojevich’s sense of remorse.

“Throughout, on his television appearances, he showed a failure to accept responsibility for his actions. He maintained his innocence and seemed to be willing to do anything to continue maintaining that,” said Heaton. “I think that will be one factor.”

In his first trial, Blagojevich was convicted on only 1 of 24 counts. The jury deadlocked on the remaining ones. But in the second trial, the prosecution trounced him, getting convictions on 17 of 20 counts. Technically, he faces up to around 250 years, but the sentencing guidelines call for far less. He has been free on $450,000 bond, having put up his North side Chicago home and a D.C. condo as collateral.

Some report that prosecutors will seek a 30 year sentence.

“[James Zagel, the sentencing judge] will be reasonably unhappy about the crime itself–he’s a former U.S. Attorney, a former state employee,” said Simpson, and he will not take kindly to a violation of the public trust. Still, most experts don’t predict the higher end of the sentencing. “You have violent crimes that get less than 30 years,” said Simpson.

Read more »

Blago Sentencing Set for Oct. 6

Blagojevich as governor/state photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Oct. 6 won’t be a pretty day.

That’s the day U.S. District Judge James Zagel of Chicago has set for sentencing for the ever-chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to court records.

In his retrial, Blago was convicted of 17 or 20 counts. He alos faces sentencing for the one count he was convicted of his first trial — laying to the FBI.

At a hearing on Monday Monday’s court hearing, the judge indicated he wasn’t impressed with Blagojevich’s attorneys 158-page filing seeking a new trial. The Chicago Tribune reported that the judge said:

“There doesn’t seem to be anything new,” he said.

Sheldon Sorosky, one of Blagojevich’s attorneys, hinted outside of court the defense at sentencing would raise Blago’s contributions to the state and the fact two daughters depend on him.

“He cared for the ordinary guy,” Sorosky said, according to the Trib.

It’s Blago Time: Chicago Fed Jury Begins Deliberating Friday


Blagojevich as governor/state photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s the moment of truth.

Jury deliberations in Blago II — the retrial of ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich —  begins Friday.

Don’t expect a quick verdict.

The jury will have to plow through 20 counts, which should take some time.

Chicago FBI Helping in Hunt for Missing Stanley Cup Puck

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI in Chicago has dealt with some pretty heady issues in the past few years, from international terrorism to the high-profile indictment of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Now comes the case of the missing puck.

The FBI’s forensics experts in Chicago have been helping to try and locate the puck that passed through the net of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 to give the Chicago Blackhawks the Stanley Cup, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane shot the puck to win the 2010 Stanley Cup.

The Tribune reported that the puck went missing after it went into the net and the Blackhaws started celebrating. It hasn’t been seen since.

“All we’re doing is helping,” Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said, according to the Trib. “The people who are doing this are doing it on their own time. They feel they are a part of history.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Blago Defense Asks Judge to Dismiss his Conviction

Ex-Gov. Blago while in office/official photo

Ex-Gov. Blago while in office/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Just when you thought you’d get a break from some Rod Blagojevich news.

The latest: The Chicago Tribune reports that the ex-Illinois governor’s lawyers have asked the judge who presided over the trial to dismiss the one conviction for lying to the FBI.

The Tribune reports that the lawyers filed a motion claiming the conviction was the result of a “plethora of errors”. Blago was convicted on only one of 24 counts. The jury deadlocked on the remainder.

The defense claims prosecutors served up an overly complicated case that confused jurors, and the judge limited the defense during trial at every turn.

“To be sure, the burden was on the government and the defendant had no obligation to put on a case,” the defense motion said, according to the Tribune. “However, the defendant’s fundamental right to defend himself through cross-examination was stomped upon by obstructionist (and continuous) objections that were sustained by the Court.”

Breaking News: Jurors in Blago Case Say They’ve Only Reached Agreement on 2 of 24 Counts

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

Ex-Gov Blagojevich as gov/state photo

Update: Thurs. 6:10 p.m.– The Chicago Tribune reports that the jurors are done for the day and will return Monday.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Jurors in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich have come to an agreement on two of 24 counts, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The judge instructed them to continue deliberating.

The jurors indicated they had not even discussed 11 counts of wire fraud, and were deadlocked on another 11, the AP reported.

Blagojevich and his brother Robert are both on trial.

The “Blagojevich Enterprise” Was Actually a Bi-Partisan Affair

By Jon Perkins
tickethewire.com

Indictedgov-blagojevich-plane ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a die-hard Democrat, has clearly been an embarrassment to his party.

But what’s often lost amid the salacious allegations is that the “Blagojevich Enterprise” – a cynical term dubbed by the prosecution in the April 2 indictment — has been a bi-partisan affair, an equal opportunity for both Dems and Republicans to line their pockets.

The indictment includes the names of William Cellini, a Springfield, Ill., businessmen and a leading figure in GOP state politics who is accused of fraud conspiracy, extortion conspiracy and attempted extortion. And lobbyist Robert Kjellander, a former RNC treasurer who Chicago Tribune sources said is tied to an alleged scheme to direct the sale of billions of dollars in bonds to refinance the state’s pension debt and secretly kick back hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic financier Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

So in reality, there’s probably a better term for the level of corruption here – no offense to the U.S. Atty.Patrick Fitzgerald. It’s called the “Illinois Combine”.

The Illinois Combine as defined by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, as a loose and shadowy bipartisan confederation of powerful state figures that allegedly
rules across party lines to line the pockets of political allies without regard to party affiliation.

A combine, notice the lower case “c,” is a very handy if not essential piece of farm machinery. The combine is designed to harvest grain. The Illinois Combine appears to be designed to harvest money and power for the private enrichment for the politically well-connected from the public trough.

There are some dangers in operating farm equipment, and combines are no exception. Combines can get stuck in the fields and occasionally can hit a rut and expel passengers.

Bagojevch faces 16 charges of fraud, extortion and racketeering
conspiracy. His indictment, which came more than three months after
Blagojevich was arrested, repeated the allegation that the
then-governor sought to use his power to appoint President Obama’s
replacement in the US Senate to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

The 75-page indictment also said that he plotted with close aides to
make money from his office even before he was elected in 2002.

Blagojevich, his brother Robert, and fellow defendants Christopher Kelly and William Cellini are to be arraigned before U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Tuesday. Former Blagojevich aides John Harris and Lon Monk are to be arraigned April 16. Both Harris and Monk reportedly are cooperating with the government.

Feds Interview Sen. Roland Burris in Chicago About ex-Gov

Sen. Roland Burris/official photo

Sen. Roland Burris/official photo

Whether he’s done anything wrong or not,  Sen. Roland Burris’ name is increasingly being associated with a not-so flattering word:  “scandal”.  Can he hold on to the coveted Senate seat he sought?

By John Chase and Jeff Coen
Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — U.S. Sen. Roland Burris was interviewed by federal authorities for several hours Saturday as part of the ongoing corruption investigation into charges that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to sell a Senate seat for personal or political profit, sources familiar with the talks said.

Burris’ interview, which had been delayed for weeks, took place at his attorney’s offices in downtown Chicago. He has been informed he is not a target of the probe, the sources said.

Burris acknowledged a week ago that federal investigators wanted to talk to him about the circumstances surrounding his appointment by Blagojevich, which occurred three weeks after the former governor was arrested on federal corruption charges.

Among the charges filed against Blagojevich are allegations he tried to peddle the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in exchange for a Cabinet post, an ambassadorship or high-paying private positions for him and his wife.
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