Intelligence Report: Troubles keep mounting for former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris

October 31, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Former Governor Blagojevich's case ended with a long prison sentence, but in this Intelligence Report, the misery of being associated with Blagojevich goes on for his former chief of staff.

After Blagojevich's one-time top aide and attorney John Harris was arrested, he was the first to cooperate and considered by prosecutors to be the key to the case. Despite that, the I-Team has learned that Harris is now in the middle of what amounts to a bar brawl for his law license.

A state panel wants Harris banished for life. Harris is fighting for a chance to regain his law license and calling some notable character witnesses to help.

The cooperation of John Harris and the conviction of Rod Blagojevich were the essence of cause and effect: Harris's truths, Blagojevich's consequences.

But, even though he was considered the wunderkind of the government's case and was lauded by prosecutors for his behind the scenes help in proving the ex-governor's guilt, the state of Illinois is moving to banish Harris from practicing law.

According to records, the attorney registration and discipline commission, an arm of the Illinois Supreme Court, wants Harris disbarred for no less than five years, the harshest penalty, that requires rehabilitation and a difficult reinstatement process that few bother to try and seldom pass.

A three-member panel this week heard from an assistant federal prosecutor who described the felony corruption charges to which Harris pleaded guilty and the 10-day sentence he received due to his cooperation.

Harris is calling a list of prominent character witnesses, including a Cook County judge, a current state senator, a former Justice Department attorney and Blagojevich's former chief legal counsel.

Bill Quinlan Jr., the former governor's top state attorney, wasn't charged in the corruption case but he was heard in several recorded conversations played at Blagojevich's trials. Quinlan never testified, so his appearance on behalf of John Harris this week amounted to the first time that he has spoken under oath about what it was like to work for the Blagojevich administration.

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