Blagojevich indicted on corruption charges

Blagojevich proclaims innocence
April 2, 2009 9:22:13 PM PDT
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been indicted on corruption charges. DOCUMENT: Download the full indictment document
DOCUMENT: Download the U.S. Attorney's press release
DOCUMENT: Download a list of all the charges
VIDEO: Watch Gov. Quinn's press conference
VIDEO: Illinois reacts to Blagojevich's indictment
VIDEO: Former Gov. Blagojevich and his wife at Disney World

Rod Blagojevich, 52, has been charged with 19 counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal agents.

Read the Allegations in the indictment of Rod Blagojevich

A summary from the United States Attorney says that "since 2002, even before he was first elected governor and continuing until he was arrested December 9 of 2008, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and a circle of his closest aides and advisors engaged in a wide ranging scheme to deprive the people of Illinois of honest government."

The indictment says Blagojevich used his office in numerous matters involving state appointments, business, legislation and pension fund investments to seek or obtain financial benefits, such as money, campaign contributions and jobs for himself and others in exchange for official actions. Those actions include, according to the document, trying to leverage his authority to appoint a United States senator.

There are five other people named in the indictment, including John Harris, 47, of Chicago, the former chief of staff for the governor, who was charged in that original complaint in December; Lon Monk, 50, of Park Ridge, who was working for the Blagojevich administration early on; the governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich, 53, of Nashville, Tennessee; Christopher Kelly, 50, of Burr Ridge, a former top fundraiser for the governor and his campaign; and William Cellini, Sr., 74, a businessman and power broker from Springfield.

The former governor's wife, Patti, was not charged in the indictment.

Those charged are accused of conspiring to use the influence of the governor's office to get employment for his wife.

One example the indictment says is that she received a real estate commission of more than $14,000 even though she did no work to earn it.

The indictment also says when her real estate business received media attention the former governor tried to get her appointed to a paid position on a state board even though he knew she wasn't qualified.

From Disney World in Florida, where he is spending spring break with his family, Blagojevich is proclaiming his innocence and vowing to fight his indictment.Watch video of the Blagojevichs at Disney World.

Blagojevich said in a statement Thursday he is saddened and hurt by the charges leveled against him.

He is asking the people of Illinois to be patient and learn all the fact before they cast judgment on him.

The former governor's attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, made the following statement: "Rod Blagojevich strongly asserts that he is innocent and we would ask the people of Illinois to wait and listen to all the facts of the case before they make their decision."

Illinois officials weigh in on indictment

"We can only hope the former governor will not view this indictment as a green light for another publicity tour. Rod Blagojevich deserves his day in court, but the people of Illinois deserve a break," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

U.S. Rep Bobby L. Rush released a statement: The people of Illinois deserve honest and productive representation in all forms of government. Today's indictment of former Governor Rod Blagojevich, and others, adds yet another chapter in our state's ongoing saga to maintain its integrity in the face of countless public corruption scandals. As this case moves forward, perhaps now we can close this book and begin to write a new one that speaks to the breadth of who the people of Illinois are and what they seek in the people they send to public office-honesty, integrity, truthfulness, vision and leadership.

A spokesman for Roland Burris says the embattled senator is focused on his work in the Senate, not the indictment filed against the man who appointed him.

Burris spokesman Jim O'Connor said on Thursday that Burris was not focusing on the 19-count indictment filed against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and others.

O'Connor says Burris is participating in dozens of budget votes in the Senate and won't be commenting on the indictment.

Earlier in the day, Burris told reporters with The Hill newspaper who caught him coming off the floor from a vote that Blagojevich's indictment "has nothing to do with me."

Burris says the governor has his own problems and "the law will take its course."

The woman former Gov. Rod Blagojevich defeated in 2006 says the state will pay for his election for generations.

Judy Baar Topinka says Blagojevich has turned Illinois into a national punch line. But the Republican Topinka says his indictment gives her no joy.

Blagojevich, a Democrat, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing since his arrest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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