Robert Blagojevich: Retrial will be 'a touchdown'

August 21, 2010 9:20:01 AM PDT
Robert Blagojevich, the brother of former governor Rod Blagojevich, expressed confidence about his own case at retrial.

"I'm ready to go tomorrow," said Robert Blagojevich. "I know they may not be, but I want closure. One way or another, I want closure."

Both Blagojevich brothers face a likely retrial. The jury in the first trial found Rod guilty of lying to the FBI, but could not reach a verdict on 23 other counts.

"It's not an acquittal, but we're 9-3. We're on the 25 yard line about to score," said Robert Blagojevich on Thursday. "Didn't get into the end zone, but I feel on the next go-around, we're gonna score a touchdown."

It is a football analogy that Robert Blagojevich would not have used the night of the verdict.

After he and his wife left the courthouse, they heard that the jurors were 11-1 in favor of convicting on many charges, and they thought that meant Robert as well as Rod.

"That night was sleepless for us," said Robert. "We could not believe that we had missed the mark so significantly."

Robert Blagojevich is a successful businessman and a retired army lieutenant-colonel. He is much different, and certainly more disciplined than his younger brother. The brothers' relationship is strained, but they remain on the same boat, headed for retrial.

Robert said he feels adrift, and had previously referred to the first trial as a "slow bleed." However, he did view Tuesday's verdict as a positive sign.

There were jurors who thought Robert guilty, but they were a minority.

"I thought he was lying," said foreman James Matsumoto.

Juror John Grover says there were nine jurors prepared to acquit Robert.

"Maybe I shouldn't say this as a juror now, but I wanted to see him go home with his wife," said Grover. "I was not even close to a reasonable doubt with Robert."

The jury could not reach a verdict on any of the four counts against Robert Blagojevich.

"To hear one person articulate is in the way I'd like to have it articulated is good for my soul, it fills me, gives me strength, and, you know, prepares me to fight another day, which I'm going to have to do," said Robert.

Robert Blagojevich presumes that however sympathetic the last jury may have been to him, prosecutors won't drop the charges against him. He will be a defendant once again - retried with his younger brother.

They have not spoken much.

"Rod is unfortunately an undisciplined, all over the place, sometimes out-of-control guy who speaks without thinking, and that's what's gotten him and me in trouble," said Robert.

Having said that, Robert strongly defends his brother as an innocent man who never acted with criminal intent.

"Rod and I are very different people, we have very different approaches to problems, and I wish him well in his strategy," said Robert.

Rod Blagojevich on Thursday was preparing to leave for New York for another round of nationally-televised interviews.

Robert said he had not spoken to Rod since the day of the verdict. He said he would be happy to talk to him, but is content to wait for the call.

Robert Blagojevich has done well in the business world, but the cost of his defense, he says, is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He had earlier taken out a second mortgage on his Nashville home, and is now preparing to sell it as the retrial approaches.

Prosecutors will not say what, if any, changes they make to their case, but they have always argued that Robert Blagojevich became a knowing, willing part of his brother's pay-to-play scheme, and that is not expected to change in the retrial.


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