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Jury Hung on Robert Blagojevich

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A federal jury today did not reach a verdict on corruption charges against Robert Blagojevich related to his brother's governmental misdeeds.

    The 54-year-old real estate entrepreneur from Nashville claimed during the trial that he was not guilty of extortion.

     

    The governor's brother headed the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund for the last five months of 2008 and in doing so he was implicated in multiple deals to secure campaign donations in return for favorable legislation. 

     

    He said fundraising for his brother was difficult in part because of reports that the administration was under investigation.

     

    "Rod's brand, Rod as a politician, was tarnished," he said, adding that they got the answer "no" more often than "yes" in trying to raise money.

     

    The trial put a strain on the brother's relationship. Robert petitioned vehemently to be tried separately from his younger brother, and when that request was denied he sat at a different table from his brother during the entire proceedings. The two rarely spoke or even exchanged looks.

     

    During one instance of testimony, Robert apologized for the profanity he and his brother used.

     

    But along the way Robert Blagojevich insisted he had kept fundraising separate from politics. During a recording of a meeting with Indian businessman Babu Patel, the matter of Jesse Jackson and the Senate seat is raised.  Robert Blagojevich says, "He's going to do what's best for the State of Illinois, and nothing else matters," which seemed to support his case.

     

    But on another tape, this one from Nov. 12, 2008 (portions of which were played previously by prosecutors), Robert Blagojevich is heard talking to his brother about the Obama senate seat and what Jackson Jr.'s people -- specifically Raghu Nayak, a leader of the a Chicago area Indian American community --  are willing to do.

    "It's tit for tat," he said, "I wouldn't give anything away!" 

    Cross-examining Robert Blagojevich, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner repeatedly asked Robert Blagojevich whether he urged his brother to exchange the appointment of Valerie Jarrett for a promise from Obama to pull the plug on the federal corruption investigation.

     

    He said he never suggested to his brother that he try to wrest any personal benefit from the Senate seat, but only things of "political value" that would advance the then-governor's legislative agenda.

     

    Blagojevich's lawyer Michael Ettinger replayed a recording initially played by prosecutors in which Robert Blagojevich is heard telling the governor "the only brotherly advice I'd give ya ... I wouldn't give anything away." Robert Blagojevich said he was merely talking about getting a good political deal.

     

    Robert Blagojevich also said he was often outside the loop when his brother and political advisers met to discuss raising campaign contributions. He said the governor would often go in a back office with such lobbyists as former aides Alonzo Monk and John Wyma to discuss fundraising matters. He described himself as merely "the score keeper" of the campaign fund.

     

    About two thirds of the way through the trial prosecutors dropped a wire fraud charge against Robert, which seemed to signal that their case against him was weaker than they orignally thought.