After deliberating for nine days, Chicago jurors found former Illinois Governor (and star of the now-awkward Wonderful Pistachios ad campaign) Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 out of 20 counts of corruption, including an attempt to auction off President Obama’s vacated Senate seat.
In the retrial, Blagojevich pled not guilty to all counts of wire fraud, racketeering, bribery and attempted extortion.
Even after the guilty verdict was read, Blago still could not resist the temptation of the microphones, ironically confessing, “Well, among the many lessons I’ve learned from this whole experience is to try to speak a little bit less, so I’m going to keep my remarks kind of short.”
Blagojevich went on to declare that he was “quite frankly, stunned” by the decision, and that his main concern was “to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and then try to sort things out.”
Earlier in the day, the former governor expressed his pre-trial anxieties by venting, “My hands are shaking, my knees are weak, I can barely stand on my own two feet” in an ominous nod to Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up.”
This is just the latest in a string of corruption scandals surrounding Illinois politicians. Blago’s predecessor, former Illinois Governor George Ryan, was also tried and convicted on corruption charges in 2006.
— By Harry Grabow