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Updated: August 18, 2010 20:57 IST

Blagojevich escapes with single guilty verdict

Narayan Lakshman
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Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty on only one of 24 charges in his federal corruption trial on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010. Photo: AP
AP Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty on only one of 24 charges in his federal corruption trial on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010. Photo: AP

Milorad “Rod” Blagojevich, former Illinois Governor and Democrat, got away with a guilty verdict on only one of 24 charges, in a federal corruption case against him. Mr. Blagojevich was found guilty of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a trial that has witnessed two weeks of “tense deliberations”, according to a juror in the case.

The jury failed to reach a clear verdict on other, more serious charges, including conspiracy to commit extortion, attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery — all relating to what the Justice Department described as Mr. Blagojevich’s attempts “to obtain personal gain ... through the corrupt use” of authority to fill President Barack Obama’s vacated United States Senate seat.

Under the present laws, Mr. Blagojevich could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the single guilty count. However some legal experts said that the he may serve "a few months to a year". In any case, Mr. Blagojevich was freed on a bond pending a retrial and has said he would appeal the guilty verdict.

Blagojevich claims victory

Claiming victory shortly after the verdict was read, Mr. Blagojevich was quoted saying, “This jury shows you that the government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me... They could not prove I did anything wrong — except for one nebulous charge from five years ago.”

One juror in the case, Erik Sarnello (21), said to a television channel earlier that a lone female juror would not be swayed by the overwhelming majority and kept the jury deadlocked at 11-1 on three major charges relating to the Obama Senate seat.

Mr. Blagojevich was arrested on December 9, 2008, and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. For months before his arrest police, investigators had tapped his phones and, according to reports, “recorded profanity-laced conversations between the governor and his advisers about their alleged plans to profit from his authority”.

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