Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty of only one of the 24 counts in his corruption trial. After deliberating for 14 days, the jury found him guilty only of making false statements to the FBI. The jury is deadlocked on the other 23 counts.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Blagojevich faces up to five years in prison. Judge James B. Zagel intends to declare a mistrial on the other counts.
The verdict is a huge defeat for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, but the Associated Press reports that prosecutors said they plan to retry the case as soon as possible, and that Zagel set a hearing for August 26 to decide on the manner and timing.
After hearing the verdict, Blagojevich spoke outside the courtroom and thanked his legal team and the jury. He said the prosecution did everything they could to “persecute” him, but “they could not prove that I did anything wrong… except for one nebulous charge.”
“We didn’t even put a defense up, and the government could not prove its case,” he said.
Blagojevich did not even concede on the one count where he was convicted, which he said he plans to appeal.
“I want the people of Illinois to know, I did not lie to the FBI,” he said. “We’re going to continue to fight.”
Last week, the jury indicated that they had reached consensus on only 2 of the 24 counts, and hadn’t even begun debating the 11 wire fraud charges. The judge instructed them to continue deliberating.
Blagojevich faced charges alleging that he attempted to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama in 2008, shook down a children’s hospital, and engaged in other schemes to profit from his office. He pleaded not guilty to 24 counts of bribery, wire fraud, racketeering, and attempted extortion. His lawyers tried to paint him as an honest, if simple, politician led astray by bad advisers.
The trial began June 3, and Blagojevich had long promised to take the stand in his own defense. But after listening to the prosecution’s case, and the cross-examination of Rod’s brother and co-defendent Robert, Blagojevich and his lawyers decided to rest without calling a single witness.
“I’ve learned a lot of lessons from this whole experience,” Blagojevich said at the time. “And perhaps, maybe the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I talk too much.”
Since his arrest in December 2008, Blagojevich has long professed his innocence in public settings, and he and his wife both made appearances on reality TV programs.
Read TPMmuckraker’s complete coverage of the Blagojevich case here.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com