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Big Funds Being Spent in Blago's Defense

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Big Funds Being Spent in Blago's Defense
Big Funds Being Spent in Blago's Defense

NBC.com/The-Apprentice

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For the most part, Rod Blagojevich's former friends deserted him in droves.

But whether they know it or not, even now, as he cavorts with Cyndi Lauper and Donald Trump on television, his onetime "friends" are paying out bushels full of cash for the disgraced former governor's defense.

In the month of March alone, the Blagojevich lawyers were paid over $437,000 from the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund, which was frozen by Judge James Zagel after the former governor's indictment last year.

In June of 2009, the prosecution and defense agreed on a plan where the lawyers would be paid from the fund, at a rate of $110 per hour (younger associates are paid at a lower rate, about $50 per hour).  Everyone agreed that the funds would most likely be exhausted well before the proceedings were completed.

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky estimates the Blagojevich lawyers have billed the fund for about $750,000 since they began representing the former governor last year.

Not all disbursements from the fund have gone to pay legal bills. The court agreed that certain lingering campaign expenses, including office rent, could be deducted from the Friends of Blagojevich accounts as those bills came due.  Court records indicate that since June of last year, more than $1.5 million dollars has been disbursed from the accounts.

Sorosky estimated the balance in the Friends of Blagojevich fund was $2.4 million dollars when the saga began last year. That means, there is now less than a million dollars left.

And the trial doesn't begin for another two months.

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