'Fundraiser A': Robert Blagojevich blasts feds who put him on trial

Thursday, April 2, 2015
Robert Blagojevich blasts feds
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Six years after he was indicted along with his younger brother, Blagojevich is firing broadsides at the prosecutors who put him on trial.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "Fundraiser A" was the government's label for Robert Blagojevich, who was indicted along with his younger brother, the former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, six years ago.

Blagojevich is lashing out at federal prosecutors and the trial judge, contending that he was merely a pawn in an overzealous attempt to nail his brother.

It is a rarity when someone can beat a federal indictment, and Blagojevich did. But the experience turned his life upside down, and so angered him that he's chosen to tell his story in a book that takes a no-holds-barred swing at the people who put him on trial.

"It has destroyed the strong faith and belief I had in the American system. I'm not gonna say it's destroyed forever, but I am a very different, much more wary citizen than I ever was," Blagojevich said.

Robert Blagojevich never dreamed when he signed on as his brother's chief fundraiser that he'd wind up facing federal charges. He believed then, and forcefully claims now, that he was an innocent man being squeezed for a bigger prize.

After a hung jury, the government chose to drop charges against Blagojevich "in the interests of justice." To that, Blagojevich asks, "Where's my justice?"

"One of the many challenges that I had through this whole experience was containing and channeling the anger and outrage for what for what the government was doing to me - specifically Patrick Fitzgerald and those three prosecutors we saw everyday - who knew what they were doing to my life," Blagojevich said.

Apart from the emotional strain, Blagojevich says the trial cost his family $1 million. He and his wife liquidated their IRA's, mortgaged their home. And particularly galling, he says, were the tardy starts to each day's proceedings. Blagojevich calculates that Judge James Zagel was on average 40 minutes late to the bench each day, and with attorneys on the clock, that alone amounted to an extra $15,000.

"A small pittance of what I ended up paying. But it is a thorn in my shoe because he should have known better," Blagojevich said.

He says he would like, but knows he will never get, an apology from the government. In lieu of that, he wants people to hear his story.

When asked if he loves his brother, Blagojevich responds, "Yes. Yes."

Robert and Rod are two very different people. They remain estranged. Robert has written several times to his imprisoned brother. No reply. And when he went to visit, Robert couldn't see his brother because Rod had not put him on his approved visitor list.

"Rod handles situations in his own way, and that's of course his choice and there are consequences to that. I hold out hope that in time that we can sit down and someday talk about all this, put it in perspective and get past it," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich believes that his brother didn't get a fair shake at trial, that he never intended to personally benefit, and that a 14-year sentence was excessive.

The former governor's attorneys feel the same and argued as much in their appeal 15 months ago. The 7th Circuit still hasn't ruled on that appeal.

As for Robert Blagojevich's claim that his was an unfair prosecution, both the U.S. attorney's office and former U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald declined to comment.

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