Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Blago Guilty on 17 Counts

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Watch as the 12 men and women who convicted Blagojevich discuss their decision.

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The jury in the second Rod Blagojevich corruption trial found the former governor guilty on the majority of the counts he faced.

After nine days of deliberation, jurors found the governor guilty on 17 counts.

They reached a verdict on 18 of 20 charges that included several government shakedowns and, the marquee accusation, selling Barack Obama's Senate Seat to the highest bidder. 

Blagojevich showed no emotion as the 11-woman, 1-man jury decided he had tried to sell the senate seat and personally gain from his position of power. Each of the wire fraud convictions carry a maximum 20 years in prison.

They spared the former governor on count 17, however, saying that he never shook down the Illinois Tollway.  The jury didn't come to an agreement on counts 11 and 16, which dealt with the Illinois Tollway and trying to get favors for releasing funds for an elementary school.

In 2008, Blagojevich was charged with racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion. He was impeached, and his case went to trial. Jurors were deadlocked in the end on all but one count -- lying to the FBI.

This time around, three racketeering counts were dropped to make things less complicated for the jury. Prosecutors were careful to clearly present the remaining charges during their more streamlined case. During closing arguments, Carrie Hamilton listed charges on a large courtroom screen. The word "guilty" appeared with each of them.

"[Blagojevich] has every incentive to come in here and lie," she said. "He's trying to save himself."

Defense attorneys refuted government claims that Blagojevich used his title for personal gain and portrayed Blagojevich as a rambling man who didn't mean what he said on wiretap tapes. To prove it, Attorney Aaron Goldstein pointed to a much-anticipated moment in the trial: Blagojevich taking the stand.

"A man charged does not have to prove anything, does not have to testify," Goldstein said during closing arguments. "It's a voluntary walk and [Blagojevich] told the truth!"

The former governor took the stand after Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and newly elected Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and embarked on a 7-day, 27 hour marathon of testimony that included comments on his upbringing, his college years, his time as governor, his passion for Elvis, and more.

His disjointed, rambling testimony was at times mind-boggling, and at times sweet and sincere. All of his best political skills were on display, as he offered apologies for his language on federal wiretaps and paused to "bless" sneezing jurors and prosecutors.

READ WARD ROOM'S GUIDE TO BLAGOJEVICH'S RAMBLING TESTIMONY.

Blago and his defense team wanted to demonstrate that politics is a complicated job that can't be captured by a few remarks on a few phone calls.

To prove their point they asked Jesse Jackson Jr., who was the first witness, whether he offered campaign contributions in return for the vacant Senate seat.  He spent 12 minutes on the stand saying no. 

Emanuel followed, saying no exchange of money was discussed for an uptown school.

In the end, the jury sided with the government and decided to make Blagojevich the second consecutive Illinois governor -- after George Ryan -- to head to jail.

Prosecutors have asked for a sentencing date as quickly as possible, and Judge James Zagel imposed travel restrictions on Blagojevich.

Follow @ward_room on twitter for up-to-the-minute reports.

Related Topics Rod Blagojevich, Hung Jury, Retrial
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