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Fitz Takes His Victory Lap



    The U.S. Attorney calls the victory bittersweet. (Published Tuesday, June 28, 2011)

    U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald appeared vindicated, Monday, after his pet project, the trial of Rod Blagojevich, turned up aces.

    "I think the vindication goes to the people of Illinois," Fitzgerald said after the trial ended.

    The former governor was convicted on 17 counts of wire fraud, bribery and corruption after a second trial. Fitzgerald offered no opinion on when sentencing should beging.

    He was arrested in 2008 for attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. Fitzgerald said he stepped in to prevent what would be a crimespree the likes of which Illinois had never seen.

    "Selling a Senate seat, shaking down a children's hospital and squeezing a racetrack owner, there is no gray area. It's a crime," Fitzgerald said Monday from the Dirksen Federal Building. "We don't like to see a Senate seat sold."

    The trial wasn't always easy for Fitzgerald.

    The first time around, jurors were hung on the majority of the counts; their only unanimous decision said that Blagojevich had lied to an FBI agent -- hardly the concrete message he was looking for.

    Despite some public sentiment that said a retrial was a waste of time, Fitzgerald perservered and ordered another round.

    His team streamlined its case, dropped rackateering charges and sent it back for the people to decide.

    "There was a lesson learned on simplifying the second trial," he said.

    The attorney said there were no secret tapes, as Blagojevich tried to infer for months and months, and that Blagojevich's own testimony didn't help.

    "There's no better evidence than the defendants own voice and words," he said.