I-Team: Not So Golden

August 4, 2010 9:07:10 PM PDT
After the final verdicts are in on the Blagojevich brothers, they can expect to receive another kind of final notice: the bills from their lawyers. And regardless of what the jury decides, their last legal tabs may be paid by the very people they are accused of swindling: the taxpayers.

He may have spent six figures on Oxxford suits, become a coast-to-coast celebrity and be one of Illinois most infamous politicians but Rod Blagojevich is on the verge of being broke. He has leveraged his home in Chicago and a condo he still owns in Washington and almost cashed out his $2.6 million campaign fund to cover legal fees incurred before his trial even started. That has left his wife Patti and daughters Annie and Amy with a bleak financial future as forecast by Blagojevich himself on an FBI undercover tape played during the trial.

"Amy is going to college in six years and we can't afford it. I can't afford college for my daughter," said Blagojevich on the tape.

If convicted, Blagojevich would probably be in prison then. But his outstanding legal bills would have been paid in all likelihood by the very taxpayers he has been accused of cheating.

When federal agents raided the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund office in December of 2008, there was more than $2.5 million in contributions available.

According to court records, only $76,000 remain with most of the money having gone to attorneys, including his current criminal defense team that at trial opted not to put on any defense at all.

On Wednesday, even as the jury continued deliberations, attorneys for both sides met with Judge James Zagel to discuss the possible forfeiture of what prosecutors consider Blagojevich's ill-gotten gains, if he is convicted of racketeering, including more than $438,000 in cash believed to include wife Patti's commissions from questionable real estate deals.

At trial's end, Blagojevich attorneys are expected to a file motions with Judge Zagel asking for the public to pay final legal costs that could total hundreds of thousand of dollars. The ex-governor's brother Robert has already filed a motion to have his current legal tab totaling $350,000 paid by the Blagojevich campaign fund.

Judge Zagel hasn't ruled on that motion yet, but with the campaign fund nearly bone dry, Blagojevich's brother may have no choice but to petition the court for public payment of his last legal expenses as well.

Robert Blagojevich celebrates his 55th birthday this Saturday. He was a successful banker and businessman in Nashville, TN where he and his wife still live. If the government is to pay remaining legal bills, he too will have to file financial disclosure papers and convince the judge.


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