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Tag: Rod Blagojevich (page 2)

Gov't . Seeks 11 to 15 Year Sentence for Tony Rezko

Now that the last of the Chicago corruption cases related to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has concluded (with the conviction of William Cellini last week), it's finally time for Antoin (Tony) Rezko and Rod Blagojevich to learn their fate.

Today the Judge scheduled sentencing for Rod Blagojevich for December 6. The Government has not yet filed its sentencing statement. Tony Rezkco's sentencing is November 22 and the Court recently unsealed Rezko's sentencing position and ordered the Government's to be filed publicly. The Government filed its statement last Thursday, seeking 11 to 15 years for Rezko, which includes a reduction for cooperation and his harsh conditions of confinement. Rezko is seeking time served (44 months.)

I've just read through the 100 pages of pleadings. This post is long, but it contains both sides' arguments and is a lot shorter than the 100 pages filed by the parties. If you're so inclined, read through, and tell us what sentence you think Rezko should or will receive. [More..]

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Interview With Jurors in Rod Blagojevich Retrial

There was no holdout for "not guilty" in the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It's always interesting to get a glimpse of what goes on in the jury deliberation room, and the jurors in Blago's trial are talking.

Instead of secret votes, they used the "fist to five" method:

Secret ballots don’t show where people truly are, Wilson said, so the jurors resorted to what they called the “fist to five” method. If a juror’s fist was closed, Blagojevich was not guilty. If the juror showed five fingers, he was guilty.

“And then you have everything in between,” Wilson explained. “That led us to see openly people’s opinions of where they were in the process.”

The jurors didn't think Blagojevich was credible. They thought he was playing to them. Some of them found him personable, but thought the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming. The downside for Blago taking the stand is that if the Judge thinks he lied during his testimony, he will bump up his sentencing guidelines by two levels. Blago is free on bond until sentencing.

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Blagojevich Defense: Client is a "Motormouth" Who Never Got a Dime

Closing arguments have ended in the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The jury has been instructed and will begin deliberating in the morning.

Crux of the defense closing: Rod never made a dime and is "a motor-mouth who talks endlessly" thinking out loud:

"He talked over me, over the judge, over the prosecutor,” said Goldstein, reminding jurors that when Blagojevich was on the stand he would often ignore his own attorney’s objections to questions from a prosecutor and answer before Zagel could rule.

“He likes to talk,” Goldstein said. “That’s all you heard. (Prosecutors) want you to believe this talk is a crime. It’s not. He floated ideas and that’s all it is.”

[More...]

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Blagojevich Finishes Testimony, Closings Coming Soon

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich finished seven days of testimony today.

As he stepped off the stand, a jaunty Blagojevich tried to shake hands with lead prosecutor Reid Schar, but the government attorney turned away after the two had sparred for several days.

Judge James Zagel told jurors not to read anything into the rebuff, saying lawyers are instructed not to interact with witnesses.

At least one legal observer at the trial thought Blagojevich did better on the witness stand than expected. Does he have a chance? Can he persuade one juror? Team Blago may call a few more witnesses tomorrow, and then it's time for closing arguments.

Also today, Blagojevich wants the Judge to reconsider his refusal to introduce a transcrip in which Rahm asks Blago to appoint Forrest Claypool to the House seat Rahm was vacating. [More...]

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Rod Blagojevich: Prosecutors Begin Cross Examination

After five days of telling his story on direct examination, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is now undergoing cross-examination by prosecutors.

They began by asking him, "You are a convicted liar." He said "Yes."

More on his testimony here.

The cross-examination didn't begin until late this afternoon. Trial is now recessed until Monday. So Blagojevich gets the weekend to regroup. He better study hard.

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Rod Blagojevich Testifies at Re-Trial

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich testified in his defense today. He was on the stand for five hours and most of the testimony was just telling his life story to date.

Blagojevich began a meandering testimony that had all the melodrama and filigree of a Lifetime movie. It began with his childhood and moved to his college years and beyond in a five-hour performance, one that was not finished by the time the court adjourned for the day. The intricacies were as crosshatched as the tie he wore.

He was self-deprecating, humorous and congenial. [More...]

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Rahm Emanuel Testifies in Blagojevich Retrial

The defense called Rahm Emanuel today in the retrial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Emanuel was on the stand for 3 minutes.

In quick fashion, Sorosky asked Emanuel if anyone had ever asked him when he was congressman in 2006 to have his brother arrange a fundraiser for the governor in exchange for release of a $2 million grant to a school in Emanuel’s congressional district.

"No,” Emanuel said curtly. The mayor also said “no” when questioned if he had ever been asked to set up a nonprofit for Blagojevich to run in exchange for a appointing Obama friend Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. also testified as a defense witness today. [More...]

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No Trial Delay for Rod Blagojevich

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has lost his bid to delay his retrial on corruption charges. Jury selection will be begin next Wednesday.

The Judge today also denied Blagojevich's motion seeking notes from the FBI interview of President Barack Obama when he was President-elect, saying the notes contained no information that could be used to impeach witnesses.

Also at issue: How much evidence the government can introduce about Blago's spending -- particularly on suits.

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Rod Blagojevich Seeks Dismissal, Cites Payment Freeze on Attorney Funds

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has filed a motion to dismiss his criminal charges, set for trial in April.

His lawyers cite the recent budgetary freeze on payments to court-appointed counsel. They say they haven't been paid in 9 months, and are unable to retain experts to challenge the Government's evidence. The motion is here.

The financial hardship .... has created a vast inequity in this case between the government and the defense. The government continues to have every resource at its disposal. Yet, the defense is stymied in its ability to prepare for trial.

Blagojevich has the right to a fair trial and to present a defense, as well as the right to effective assistance of counsel. (U.S. Const. Amends V, VI). Blagojevich’s aforementioned rights cannot be sustained under the current economic situation.

Blagojevich is asking to be sentenced now on the single count he was convicted of at his first trial, making a false statement to the F.B.I. That charge carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison. [More...]

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Government Drops Case Against Robert Blagojevich

Robert Blagojevich gets some welcome news: The Government is dropping its case against him and won't be refiling charges.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar said the government was dropping two counts of extortion conspiracy and one count each of wire fraud and extortion because of "the disparity in the roles" of the two brothers and "in the interests of justice."

I'm glad the Government made the right call, see my post, Enough about Rod, Lets Talk About Robert.

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Rod Blagojevich on Jon Stewart: Tongue-tied?

Exclusive - Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 1

Rod explains why he didn't testify at his trial. He gets tongue-tied at points, according to the description. Here's Part 2.

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More Blagojevich Trial Post-Mortems, Let's Talk About Robert

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has embarked on a new round of media interviews. He's everywhere from the morning news shows and radio to Fox News Sunday (tomorrow morning) proclaiming his innocence and protesting his persecution at the hands of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Here's the transcript of yesterday's Today Show appearance.

John Dean has a trial post-mortem at Findlaw. He makes the same points I did during the trial and jury deliberations, but much more succinctly and in one place. It's a good read. Shorter version: The Government overcharged Blago, presented a needlessly complex case and hopelessly confused the jurors.

But enough about Rod, let's talk about Robert Blagojevich. as I wrote a few days ago in Blagojevich: The Retrial and More From the Jurors, the jurors reportedly voted 9 to 3 to acquit Robert. [More...]

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Blagojevich: The Retrial and More From the Jurors

The Washington Post has an editorial today opposing the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It labels the verdict an "extraordinary rebuke" to the Government:

With moral thunder in December 2008, the aggressive prosecutor declared that the state's chief executive was nabbed "in the middle of what we can only describe as a public corruption crime spree." Mr. Fitzgerald added, "The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave." Yet on Tuesday, 20 months later, a federal jury was unmoved. In an extraordinary rebuke, Mr. Blagojevich was convicted on only one of 24 counts against him.

It ends:

Mr. Fitzgerald is entitled under the law to drag the ex-governor back into court. He has the resources to do so and the motivation: The Blagojevich brand of politics is repugnant, beyond any doubt. It perverts democracy and puts moneyed interests over the common good. But the prosecutor took his shot and lost. He should stand down before crossing another fine line -- the one that separates prosecution from persecution.

[More...]

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A Defiant Rod Blagojevich: "I Didn't Lie to the FBI"

[Video no longer available]

A very defiant Rod Blagojevich addresses reporters in a statement after the verdict. It's really worth watching.

The false statement charge to the FBI was made during a voluntary interview he gave to agents in 2005. Rod says the FBI wouldn't let him have a stenographer present during the interview. It wasn't taped. He says he want's the people of Illinois to know he didn't lie to the FBI. He thanks the jurors for their hard work. And he castigates the feds for persecuting him. He vows to appeal the false statement conviction. In a nutshell: [More...]

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Why Retry Rod and Robert Blagojevich? Enough is Enough

After all the hooplah, the Government convicted former Illiniois Governor Rod Blagojevich of just one count, making a false statement to the FBI in 2005 (now known as the "Martha Stewart" offense." It carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The jury did not agree on the RICO counts or the wire fraud, extortion, bribery, or related conspiracy and attempt counts. [More...]

This is not a win for the Government. It's a loss. What did this trial cost the taxpayers? Rod undoubtedly will go to prison on the false statement charge, isn't that enough of a pound of flesh?

With court approval, Rod's legal fees were paid with his campaign fund at reduced appointed counsel rates. The fund is now empty. If Rod uses court-appointed counsel for the next trial, it will come out of CJA funds. (Robert paid his own legal fees.)

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