Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Ex-governor convicted of corruption

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been convicted of 17 charges (AP)
Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been convicted of 17 charges (AP)

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been convicted of 17 charges, many related to his attempt to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

Jurors were deadlocked on one charge of attempted extortion involving funding for a school in the district of then-congressman Rahm Emanuel.

The jury found Blagojevich not guilty of soliciting bribes from a road-building executive. The panel was also deadlocked on a charge of attempted extortion on the same case.

Blagojevich capitalised on his talkative "everyman" image to get elected for two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him the object of national jokes.

Because the allegations had to do with Mr Obama's Senate seat, and because Blagojevich never hesitated to talk about himself when media cameras were around, the case attracted national attention.

The verdict is a bitter defeat for Blagojevich, who had spent two and a half years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand.

In what many saw as embarrassing indignities for a former governor, Blagojevich sent his wife to the jungle for the US version of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, where she had to eat a tarantula.

He later showed his own ineptitude at simple office skills before being fired on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice.

His defence team had insisted that hours of FBI secret recordings were just the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud. He faces up to 300 years in prison, although sentencing guidelines are likely to reduce his time behind bars.

He also faces up to five additional years for a previous conviction of lying to the FBI.

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