The brother of Illinois' disgraced former governor escaped his own encounter with federal prosecutors. But he says he was the target of a needless prosecution. Phil Rogers reports.
Robert Blagojevich wants his reputation back.
Blagojevich, brother of the disgraced former governor, escaped his own encounter with federal prosecutors, when the jury hung and the government dropped the charges. But, he complained, he was the target of a needless prosecution, aimed solely at ratcheting up pressure on his famous brother.
“They use people, siblings in my case, as tactical pawns to help them get information,” Blagojevich said, “to help them prosecute the person they’re actually after.”
In essence, Blagojevich maintains, he was collateral damage in his brother’s case.
“Once they figured out I wasn’t going to cooperate with them, they should have done the right thing and just dropped the charges. They don’t do that. And that’s a problem.”
Instead, Blagojevich found himself sitting beside a brother he barely spoke to in court, fighting his own protracted legal battle which cost his family nearly a million dollars in legal fees. He won, he says, but he was left disillusioned with a government he once believed in without reservations.
“You get indicted by the federal government, you have a four percent chance to walk away with your freedom.”
“There is a convoluted system of laws that our politicians have put in place to control us,” Blagojevich says. He complains that even though he beat the federal case, he was lumped into a political scandal which has reverberations in his life even now.
“The average citizen just figures that when the government indicts somebody, they’ve done something wrong, and likely should go to prison.”
Blagojevich will not talk about the former governor, will not say if he has communicated with him in prison, or how his brother is doing. Instead, he speaks of what he believes is the unfinished business from the case: the fact that prosecutors have not brought a case against Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior.
Blagojevich says he remains convinced that when two emissaries came to him, offering millions of dollars in fundraising if Jackson was appointed Senator, they did so with the Congressman’s blessing.
“There’s no way I believe they came, except that they felt they were empowered by Congressman Jackson.”
Indeed, Blagojevich says in his own trial preparation, he was allowed to read the FBI’s reports of their own interviews with the two emissaries and Jackson himself. While he would not reveal the contents of those documents, he said a reading by the average citizen “would raise a lot of questions.”
Likewise, the thousands of hours of undercover tapes, most of which were never played in court. Blagojevich says he has heard them all, and if citizens heard many of the unplayed tapes, they would have a very different view of his brother’s guilt.
“We were wiretapped for 49 days,” he says. “Over 50 times he (the governor) said something to the effect, that he wanted to do what was right for the people of Illinois.”
“In no way do I believe my brother had any intent to commit any kind of crime.”