It seems like ages ago that Rod Blagojevich, then the sitting governor of Illinois, was indicted on federal charges for allegedly trying to auction off President Obama's former Senate seat to the highest bidder. Today, the long strange drama of Blagojevich's corruption trial lurched toward a conclusion, as a jury found him guilty on 17 corruption counts. An appeal is considered likely.
This time the verdict was unequivocal, with the jury of 11 women and one man finding Blagojevich guilty on 17 criminal counts he faced, including charges of wire fraud, attempted extortion, bribery and conspiracy. The marquee charge in the case involved an attempt by Blagojevich in late 2008 to cash in on his power to name a replacement in theU.S. Senate for newly elected President Barack Obama.
The jury acquitted Blagojevich on one count and deadlocked on two others. At the prosecution's request, the judge imposed a travel restriction on Blagojevich, instructing him to not to leave the northern district of Illinois.
Blagojevich, the fourth former Illinois governor convicted of felonies since 1973, likely faces a significant prison sentence.
What's strange about Blagojevich's trial is that, when he was first indicted, it seemed he would be convicted easily. Instead, Blagojevich has survived in the public eye for two and a half years. Last August, a jury convicted him of lying to federal agents but deadlocked on more serious charges, this after Blagojevich appeared on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice the previous spring.
The details of Blagojevich's crimes were lurid and all on tape. A Senate seat is a "f---ing valuable thing," FBI tapes caught him saying. He and his chief of staff discussed, on tape, pressuring the Chicago Tribune over the sale of Wrigley Field. It all looked very bad.
Now that Blagojevich has been convicted, here's a look back at the December 9, 2008 press conference at which U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald outlined the charges against Blagojevich: