Blago: No comment on retrial, conviction

August 19, 2010 4:31:59 AM PDT
The day after he was found guilty of lying to the FBI, former governor Rod Blagojevich was tight lipped on his conviction and the looming retrial.Jurors found Blagojevich guilty on Count 24: making false statements, which carries a fine and sentence of up to five years in prison. Jurors were hung on the other 23 counts against the former governor. Prosecutors say they will retry the corruption case.

The former governor had no comment Wednesday for reporters as he left his Ravenswood Manor home to take his daughter to summer camp.

"I'll have more to say later, but right now I have to get Annie to camp," said Blagojevich.

After the verdict was read Tuesday, Blagojevich fired away at prosecutors outside the Dirksen Federal Building.

"Well this jury just shows you, not withstanding the fact that this government and the power and resources they bring to bear, this jury just shows you that not withstanding the fact the government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me, that on every count except for one, on every charge except for one, they could not prove that I did anything wrong, that I didn't break any laws except for one nebulous charge from five years ago," said Blagojevich on Tuesday.

Blagojevich also said he plans to appeal his conviction on Count 14: making false statements.

A hearing to outline plans for a retrial is planned for next week.

"We have a court date set for next week, next Thursday, to set a trial date, so for all practical purposes we are in the mode of being close to jury selection for a retrial," said Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney.

What will prosecutors do differently this time around?

"Now you know that certain things are resonating with the jurors and certain things are not resonating with the jurors. We have a retrial, you'd sit down and examine the transcripts to determine where things went wrong," said Thomas Glasgow, criminal defense attorney.

Blagojevich's defense team believes a second trial will be a waste of time and money.

"I wish this entire group would go upstairs and ask Mr. Fitzgerald one question. I understand he's got an important job, but why are we spending 25-30 million dollars on a re trial if you couldn't prove it the first time?" said Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich's defense attorney, on Tuesday.

Prosecutors also plan to retry the former governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich, who was charged with four counts in the corruption case. The jury was also hung on those counts.

With that retrial looming, Blagojevich's neighbors are bracing for the media storm that's sure to stay in their Northwest Side neighborhood.

"Unless we can turn this all into a reality TV show where we can all can benefit, but I think it makes the neighborhood a little more chaotic. We are just going to have to make do, I guess. Blago's a news story. And I guess it's part of living next to a public official," said Seema Kumbaht, Blagojevich neighbor.

Blagojevich guilty on Count 24; Jury hung on 23 others

The guilty verdict was on Count 24: providing false statements. That count refers to a March 16, 2005 meeting with FBI in which Blagojevich told authorities he did not know who contributes or how much they contribute to his campaign fund.

Blagojevich, who could face up to 5 years in prison on the guilty count, again proclaimed his innocence as he left the courthouse Tuesday.

"I've been lied about and you've been lied to," said Blagojevich, sounding more like an acquitted man than a convicted felon. His attorneys also glossed over the conviction on Count 24.

"It proves, if anything, that they didn't have a case of anything," said Adam. "We don't have to prove our innocence."

"We didn't even put a defense on, and the government didn't prove its case," said Blagojevich, referring to the fact he did not take the stand and the defense did not call any other witnesses. Blagojevich also thanked his legal team and the jury for "their hard work" and "giving up their summer."

"If you want to blame anybody, blame me," said Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich's defense attorney.

Saying a retrial was pending, Fitzgerald said, "What I think is important is that we show gratitude to the jurors."

Judge James Zagel set a date of August 26 for a retrial hearing. Prosecutors have already declared they will retry the case as quickly as possible.

"We can be here tomorrow, Your Honor," said lead prosecutor Reid Schar.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous agreement on any other counts against the former governor Blagojevich. They were also hung on the charges against Robert Blagojevich, the former governor's brother, who faced four counts.

"We'll be ready for the next one," said Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, about the retrial.

"I have lived through the most surreal experience anyone can live through. I feel like this has been a slow bleed from the beginning both financially and emotionally," said Robert Blagojevich. He said he felt bad for his brother and plans to spend time with his wife and son.

Zagel asked both defendants to rise as the count was read. Judge Zagel thanked jurors and asked them to return to the jury room. They did not speak to reporters.

The one count verdict indicated the jury did some backtracking since last week, when jurors said they had reached an agreement on two counts in the case.


Load Comments