Illinois scandal governor guilty of lying

Illinois scandal governor guilty of lying

A federal jury in Chicago found ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich guilty Tuesday of making false statements to FBI agents, but was unable to reach a verdict on 23 other counts, according to media reports.

Prosecutors accused him of trying to sell or trade the appointment to fill the US Senate seat vacated by the election of then-senator Barack Obama to the US presidency. The allegations were based on FBI wiretaps starting in a previous investigation, dpa reported.

Blagojevich was accused of trying to profit from his elected office, and faced charges including racketeering, extortion, bribery and conspiracy.

Illinois law gives the governor the power to make appointments to fill vacancies in the state's two Senate seats.

Federal prosecutors said they would seek to hold a retrial on the 23 undecided counts.

After the verdict, Blagojevich celebrated the hung charges as a victory and vowed to appeal his conviction on the sole "nebulous" count of lying to investigators.

Impeached and removed from office by the Illinois General Assembly in January 2009, Blagojevich became a regular on television talk shows and in early 2010 appeared in four episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice, a reality show hosted by New York tycoon Donald Trump.

He continually professed his innocence and vowed to testify, but ultimately did not take the stand, and his attorneys called no witnesses for the defence.

"We didn't even put a defence on, and the government couldn't prove its case," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich said that he wanted to "remind the people of Illinois: I didn't let you down."

Within weeks of Obama's election, Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008 after being recorded in a profanity-laced conversation describing the Senate vacancy as a "golden" asset for which he was seeking political or financial returns. The case went to trial earlier this year.

The 12-member jury spent 14 days deliberating the case.

Blagojevich thanked the jury "for their hard work" and for "giving up their summer" to decide the case, which began with opening arguments on June 8.

The jury was unable to decide all four counts against Blagojevich's co-defendant and brother, Robert Blagojevich.

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