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Entries in Case (3)

Monday
Jun272011

Rod Blagojevich Guilty of Trying to Sell Obama's Senate Seat

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The jury in the retrial of Rod Blagojevich found the former Illinois governor guilty on 17 corruption charges, including fraud, attempted extortion, and soliciting bribes.

Those verdicts include the charges of conspiring to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.  The jury was deadlocked on two others.

U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel will set sentencing for a later date.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Blagojevich faces up to a decade in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Blagojevich Trial: Jurors Reach Verdict, Announcement Coming Monday

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A federal jury in Chicago has reached an undisclosed verdict in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused of corruption and trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated when President Obama was elected in 2008.

The jurors reportedly told the judge Monday morning they have agreed on 18 of 20 counts.

The verdict is expected to be announced Monday afternoon.

This is the second trial for the Democrat. A previous trial ended with a jury hung on all but one charge, although he has maintained his innocence. But federal prosecutors elected to bring the case again.

The jury in the new trial -- eleven women and one man -- reached its decision after nearly 10 days of deliberation. Federal prosecutors streamlined their presentation after the first jury complained of an overly complex case. Last year's result was a hung jury on 23 of the original 24 counts, convicting Blagojevich on a single charge of making a false statement to the FBI.

This time, the colorful ex-governor took a huge gamble by testifying in his own defense. Legal analysts called it "a hail Mary pass." Even the judge, James Zagel, told Blagojevich in court that it was probably his best chance to beat the rap.

For seven days, Blagojevich took the stand in an attempt to counter hundreds of FBI wiretaps that, prosecutors argued, demonstrated his maneuvering to peddle the vacated Senate seat of the newly elected Barack Obama. In perhaps the most infamous recording, the then governor is heard saying, "I've got this thing and it's f------ golden. And I, I'm just not giving it up for f------ nothing."

Jurors also heard recordings that, prosecutors said, showed Blagojevich scheming to sell the Senate seat to allies of U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. in exchange for more than $1 million in campaign contributions. Jackson has insisted he had no knowledge of any "unauthorized" efforts on his behalf.

On the stand, Blagojevich argued he was merely engaged in speculative political horse-trading. His lawyers contended the FBI tapes amounted to nothing but bluster. "He talked and talked and that's all he did," lead defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky said.

But federal prosecutors compared Blagojevich to a cop asking a stopped motorist for a bribe. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton told the jury: "The law focuses on 'the ask,' not on whether there was a receipt. The harm is done when 'the ask' is made."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun032011

Indicted John Edwards Insists 'I Did Not Break the Law'

John Edwards (L) exits the Federal Courthouse with his daughter Cate Edwards and speaks to a crowd of reporters in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Steve Exum/Getty Images (WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Speaking after a federal grand jury in Raleigh, N.C., handed down a six-count indictment against former senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday, he says he did nothing illegal.

Edwards was indicted for allegedly using more than $900,000 in campaign funds to hide his mistress during the 2008 Democratic presidential race.

"There's no question that I've done wrong and I take full responsibility for having done wrong," said Edwards today. "And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I've caused to others. But I did not break the law and I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law."

Edwards faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail and or a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge, if convicted.

The charges, following a two-year investigation, include conspiracy, illegal campaign contributions and making false statements.

"This is an unprecedented prosecution, much less an unprecedented civil case," Gregory Craig, lead counsel to John Edwards, said Friday. "No one would have known or should have known or could have been expected to know that these payments would be treated or should be considered as campaign contributions and there is no way that Senator Edwards knew that fact either. He will enter a plea of not guilty, he has broken no law, and we will defend this case vigorously."

The case against North Carolina Democrat, which called on more than 100 witnesses, will seek to prove that hundreds of thousands of dollars were allegedly used illegally to seclude and support his mistress Rielle Hunter, so Edwards could continue his campaign for the presidency in 2008.

The federal investigation of Edwards began a few months after the National Enquirer had cornered him at a Beverly Hills hotel in October 2007. The supermarket tabloid began to run a series of stories alleging that an adulterous affair occurred between Edwards and Hunter, his former campaign worker.

A few weeks later, in an exclusive interview with ABC's "Nightline," Edwards finally admitted to the affair -- but denied paternity of Hunter's child. In the interview, Edwards also said that he was in the dark about the expensive scheme to keep Hunter out of the public eye.

Edwards' lawyers have argued the hundreds of thousands of dollars were gifts from friends of the former senator, who intended to keep the affair secret from his wife Elizabeth, who died of cancer in December.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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