Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was found guilty Tuesday of making false statements to the FBI, but escaped convictions on 23 other counts in a trial that is seen as at least a partial victory for Blagojevich.
The jury, which deliberated for 14 days, said it was hung on 23 counts against him and on the counts against the former governor’s brother, Robert Blagojevich.
The former governor faced charges including racketeering, wire fraud, attempted extortion and bribery. A two-term Democrat, he was removed from office in January 2009 amid accusations that he attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat that had been occupied by Barack Obama before Obama was elected president.
“On every charge except for one, they could not prove that I did anything wrong,” said Rod Blagojevich, shorty after the jury was dismissed. “I told the truth from the very beginning.”
He added he would appeal the one conviction and thanked members of the jury for finding what they did.
The next court date in the case is set for August 26, though prosecutors said they will try the former governor again.
The maximum penalty for making false statements is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Conviction on the counts of wire fraud, racketeering and attempted extortion would have carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, while a conviction on the count of solicitation of bribery would have had a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, stood trial with him on four of the charges.
Robert Blagojevich testified that his brother was “trying to politically work something to his benefit” in handling the Senate appointment but was thinking in terms of political horse-trading, not corruption.
In one conversation recorded by federal agents, the former governor told an aide, “I’ve got this thing, and it’s [expletive] golden. I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing.”
“It didn’t seem out of the ordinary, because Obama was taking a lot of people from Illinois with him to D.C.,” said Robert Blagojevich, who raised money for his brother. He said the governor “was interested in the idea of being the head of Health and Human Services.”
While awaiting trial, the ousted governor repeatedly asserted his innocence in interviews and on Twitter, as well as during his appearances on the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show.
“Unfortunately, the pain and embarrassment that this whole situation has caused our great state will not come to a complete close today,” said U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois, who was cited in the criminal complaint against Blagojevich.