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Blagojevich guilty on 1 count; jury hung on 23

August 18, 2010 8:35:55 AM PDT
Former governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on only one count -- providing false statements -- in his corruption trial. Jurors were unable to agree on the 23 other counts.

The guilty verdict was on Count 24: providing false statements. That count refers to a March 16, 2005 meeting with FBI in which Blagojevich told authorities he does not know who contributes-- or how much they contribute-- to his campaign fund.

Blagojevich, who could face up to 5 years in prison on the guilty count, again proclaimed his innocence as he left the courthouse.

"I've been lied about and you've been lied to," said Blagojevich, sounding more like an acquitted man than a convicted felon. His attorneys also glossed over the conviction on Count 24.

"They could not prove that I did anything wrong. . . except one nebulous charge from five years, a conversation with FBI... I want the people of Illinois to know I did not lie to the FBI. I have told the truth from the very beginning and this is a persecution," said Blagojevich.

"It proves, if anything, that they didn't have a case of anything," said Sam Adam Sr. "We don't have to prove our innocence."

"We didn't even put a defense on and the government didn't prove its case," said Blagojevich, referring to the fact he did not take the stand and the defense did not call any other witnesses. Blagojevich also thanked his legal team and the jury for "their hard work" and "giving up their summer."

"If you want to blame anybody, blame me," said Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich's defense attorney.

Saying a retrial was pending, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said, "What I think is important is that we show gratitude to the jurors."

Judge James Zagel set a date of August 26 for a retrial hearing. Prosecutors have already declared they will retry the case as quickly as possible.

"We can be here tomorrow, your honor," said lead prosecutor Reid Schar.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous agreement on any other counts against the former governor Blagojevich. They were also hung on the charges against Robert Blagojevich, the former governor's brother, who faced four counts.

"We'll be ready for the next one," said Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, about the retrial.

MORE RELATED CONTENT: Blagojevich: Complete Coverage | Blagojevich Trial: Count by Count | Blagojevich Trial: About the Jurors | Blagojevich Scandal: Archived Coverage | Interactive Timeline: After the Arrest | PHOTOS: Blagojevich Career | Blagojevich trial exhibits (justice.gov)

"I have lived through the most surreal experience anyone can live through. I feel like this has been a slow bleed from the beginning both financially and emotionally," said Robert Blagojevich. He said he felt bad for his brother and plans to spend time with his wife and son.

Judge James Zagel asked both defendants to rise as the count was read. Judge Zagel thanked jurors and asked them to return to the jury room. They did not speak to reporters.

The one count verdict indicated the jury did some backtracking since last week, when jurors said they had reached an agreement on two counts in the case.

Summoned to court, Blagojevich asks for prayers

The former governor, his brother, and attorneys for both sides were summoned to the Dirksen Federal Building for the court hearing. Earlier in the day they had been told to stay within half an hour of the courthouse.

"Say a prayer for me," Blagojevich said to reporters gathered outside his Ravenswood Manor home as he and his wife, Patti, left for court. They left their two daughters, Amy and Annie, at home.

Tuesday morning, jurors asked Judge James Zagel for a copy of the oath they took when they began deliberations and for clarifications on how to fill out the jury form.

Those questions hinted that a verdict was forthcoming.

"This is, I believe, finally over. This part of it. I believe the deliberations are over and they're hung. That's my personal opinion," said Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, said just before noon Tuesday.

Blagojevich faced 24 counts in his corruption trial from racketeering to wire fraud. His brother, Robert Blagojevich, faced 4 counts. Both have pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges, which include trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama.

The trial lasted several weeks and included hours of secretly recorded conversations between Blagojevich and his inner circle. Blagojevich's defense called no witnesses during the trial despite the fact the former governor had promised on several occasions to take the stand.

Jury requests copy of oath, advice on form

Tuesday's was the sixth note since the jury got the case on July 28. Tuesday marked their 14th day of deliberations.

Judge James Zagel said delivered a copy of the oath, "Do each of you solemnly swear that you will well and truly try, and true deliverance make, in the case now on trial and render a true verdict according to the law and the evidence, so help you God?" to the jury room.

Judge Zagel also replied to the question of whether they should leave the jury form blank on counts in which they are not unanimous- or declare the split vote. Judge Zagel said to leave it blank- and have every juror sign the sheet.

After receiving the note, Judge Zagel said attorneys and defendants need to stay within half an hour of the courthouse in case the verdict comes this week.

On Monday, they requested a transcript of testimony from witness Bradley Tusk, who served as former deputy governor to then governor Blagojevich. He spoke about an alleged extortion scheme against Rahm Emanuel on June 21.

Tusk said the former governor threatened to hold up a $2 million grant to a school in Emanuel's district unless the then congressman's brother threw a Hollywood fundraiser for Blagojevich. That fundraiser never happened and the school eventually received the money.

Tusk's testimony relates directly to Count 14: Attempted Extortion.

Last week, jurors said they had reached an agreement on only 2 of the 24 counts and had not considered 11 of them.

Tuesday marks their 14th day of deliberations since getting the case on June 28. The jury is made up of six men and six women.

THE 24 COUNTS
(Note: Robert Blagojevich is charged in the four counts with an asterisk.)

Count 1: RACKETEERING: Hung Jury
Count 2: RACKETEERING CONSPIRACY: Hung Jury
Count 3: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 4: WIRE FRAUD *: Hung Jury
Count 5: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 6: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 7:WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 8: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 9: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 10: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 11: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 12: WIRE FRAUD: Hung Jury
Count 13: WIRE FRAUD : Hung Jury
Count 14: ATTEMPTED EXTORTION: Hung Jury
Count 15: ATTEMPTED EXTORTION: Hung Jury
Count 16: BRIBERY: Hung Jury
Count 17: EXTORTION CONSPIRACY: Hung Jury
Count 18: BRIBERY CONSPIRACY : Hung Jury
Count 19: ATTEMPTED EXTORTION: Hung Jury
Count 20: BRIBERY : Hung Jury
Count 21: EXTORTION CONSPIRACY*: Hung Jury
Count 22:ATTEMPTED EXTORTION* : Hung Jury
Count 23: BRIBERY CONSPIRACY* : Hung Jury
Count 24: FALSE STATEMENTS: Guilty


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