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Breaking: Rod Blagojevich found guilty on one count of lying to the FBI

It was clear this trial was not going well for the prosecution when the jury was having a hard time reaching a decision. And today we heard how bad it really was for Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury found Rod Blagojevich guilty on one count of lying to federal officials and deadlocked on the remaining 23 counts:

After 14 days of deliberations, the jury examining the corruption case against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich found him guilty on only one count of the 24 counts he faced.

The jury was hung on the 23 other charges, including the allegation that Blagojevich conspired to sell Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

The disgraced former governor was found guilty of making false statements to the FBI, a crime that carries a maximum prison term of five years. Jurors could not reach agreement on the other charges including racketeering, bribery, and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.

It's a major loss for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who ordered the arrest of a sitting governor.

Tonight, prosecutors said they "absolutely" plan to try Blagojevich again with a new jury.

This is more than just a loss for Fitzgerald. This is a humiliation that will follow him around for the rest of his career.

Update: According to the Sun-Times, some of the 23 charges weren't even close to unanimous; however, the most significant of the charges that Blago was attempting to selling Obama's senate seat came down to one holdout juror who refused to convict without a smoking gun:

That one juror -- a woman whom her colleagues declined to identify -- felt she had not gotten the "clear-cut evidence'' she needed to convict, Sarnello said.

"Say it was a murder trial -- she wanted the video,'' Sarnello said. "She wanted to hear [Blagojevich] say, 'I'll give you this for that.' . . . For some people, it was clear. Some people heard that. But for some, it wasn't clear.''

Matsumoto said the jurors were overwhelmed by the number of counts and the amount of evidence in the case.

Although he believes Blagojevich was guilty on all counts, others argued there was no "smoking gun,'' he said. Had the government waited for Blagojevich to receive some benefit, it might have been easier to prove.

Sarnello said jurors were also frustrated by a lack of order in the government's case.

"It confused some people, just the way they presented it,'' said Sarnello, a student from Itasca. "They didn't really follow a timeline at all.''


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Comments (23)

In reading, it appears that... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

In reading, it appears that the jury found him guilty on only the simplest charge. Everything else was evidently too complicated.

Given the state and it's politics, how many jurors got paid off?

It only takes one Gfan, And... (Below threshold)
hvywgt:

It only takes one Gfan, And here in the great state of illnoise there are plenty of folks with their hand out.

All they'd need is one. Co... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

All they'd need is one. Could go as high as 12, with one told to be the dissenter so it'd be deadlocked... but that's unlikely.

What's sad is that the Feds... (Below threshold)
CZ:

What's sad is that the Feds moved in way too soon. Was it to protect Jesse Jr., Rhambo and or Obunco? Only Richard Armatige and Scooter Libby know for sure. Tens of millions in tax dollars were wasted and it's not over. Fitz is an ass.

Blago missed being convicte... (Below threshold)
Caesar Augustus:

Blago missed being convicted on all counts by a hair....or perhaps more likely by one paid-off/stupid juror....

It seems that the only type... (Below threshold)
Neo:

It seems that the only type of conviction Fitz can get is a count of lying.

the fix was in early...henc... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

the fix was in early...hence NO defense witnesses that would have "embarrassed" the Obamanistas were called, and no tough convictions were had.

will the Feds actually re-try this? my bet is no.

He coudn't be convicted... ... (Below threshold)
914:

He coudn't be convicted... It would look bad on Barry's resume.

The chance of a retrial dep... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

The chance of a retrial depends mostly on what the jury breakdown was, which we will learn as the jurors begin talking to the press over the next few days.

If it was 11-1 or 10-2 to convict on most of the charges, Fitz will roll the dice. But if it was a close call on most counts, with 4-6 votes "not guilty" he will quietly fold up his tent.

CZ @ #4 is quite right - this was a clear case of premature arrest. A more benign explanation might be that the FBI and DOJ was not going to be able to keep the probe a secret from the Obama appointees, and they would tip off their pals like AG Griffin Bell tipped off Sen. Herman Talmadge the morning the Senator was to pick up his ABSCAM cash. Bell also immediately shut down that probe, which let lots of eager fish swim away unharmed.

I'm seeing reports that the... (Below threshold)
jim2:

I'm seeing reports that the jury was 11 - 1 on all or almost all of the other counts.

If so, the story will be more about the crazy-stubborn juror and not really about Fitzgerald.

wiretaps of him openly talk... (Below threshold)

wiretaps of him openly talking about selling the senate seat appointment? no conviction for conspiring to sell the seat?

when, exactly, did justice in America die?

Granite-jawed Patty Fitz ha... (Below threshold)
Sir Toby Belch:

Granite-jawed Patty Fitz has nailed another
miscreant.....on "lying" to the FBI. Top
lawman in the 57 states, right Holder?

Sorry, Holder. It's just th... (Below threshold)
Sir Toby Belch:

Sorry, Holder. It's just that during grilling
on the hill, you have that perpetual "who
moved my cheese" look on your mug. Nothing
personal. Send my regards to Marc Richman.

RE: 11Ask Nicole S... (Below threshold)
epador:

RE: 11

Ask Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

If this is all they found h... (Below threshold)

If this is all they found him guilty on, well this is a big victory for him. Given the magnitude of the crimes -- racketeering -- a single count is no big victory for the government. Robert Blagojevich's defense attorney, Michael Ettinger, said that while today's ruling isn't a victory "it's not a loss and I expect the next time to be a victory." Visit Denver so its beautiful, that many visitors often think that they have died and gone to heaven

I haven't seen the claims o... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

I haven't seen the claims of 11-1 but if they are true a retrial is coming.

Conspiracy and racketeering can be tough cases to make to a jury of ordinary citizens. The prosecution's biggest problem here is that no money ever exchanged hands. The conspirators talked about how they might do it, but they never came out and said they were doing it.

Establishing the requisite intent in a conspiracy case where the conspiracy never actually committed the crime or attempted directly to commit it is very difficult, as is establishing the elements of racketeering if no definite plans are discussed and no actual criminal acts result.

The prosecutors should have set up a sting with a real candidate, who need not even have been in on the sting if his "representative" was. Then they would have all the elements to lay before a jury.

"Say it was a murder trial ... (Below threshold)
hvywgt:

"Say it was a murder trial -- she wanted the video,'' Says it all.

Jim - on the news this morn... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Jim - on the news this morning, I heard the 11-1. One of the jurors was quoted saying "She just wasn't seeing what the rest of us were."

That sounds like someone got bought to me.

BTW, looks like the spambots are getting a bit more sophisitcated. See #15.

Poor old "Democratic" potty... (Below threshold)

Poor old "Democratic" potty activist/apparatchik, Patrick Fitzgerald. Mr Libby held up his head and walked free -- and so does the governor.

While Richard Lee Armitage and Buraq Hussayn Ubama 0zero and every other of the real crooks that comprise the rank and file of the vast organized criminal enterprises that prefer we call them by their nom-de-plume -- the "Democratic" potty -- slip into the smoke, duck between the mirrors, slip out the back door -- and get away.

Come on just because this i... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Come on just because this is Chicago, where judges have been convicted of taking bribes to let off mafia hitmen, does not mean that someone was bought.

I actually think that the more likely answer is that the juror, who was probably selected on the basis of not knowing who the governor was (or possibly even what a governor is), was simply too stupid to understand that when you have a tape of a man talking to other men about selling the Senate seat that IS evidence of a conspiracy. What? This idiot needs video? Sorry we don't have video phones for you Dick Tracy. That's no reason not to convict.

First, they should wiretap ... (Below threshold)
John S:

First, they should wiretap the lone holdout juror to see if she was bribed, or just plain stupid. Second, I suggest a change of venue far from the Chicago Mob. Perhaps rural Texas?

<a href="http://tpmmuckrake... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:
If this is all they found h... (Below threshold)
Schwinn Bicycles:

If this is all they found him guilty on, then this is a big victory for him. Given the magnitude of the crimes -- racketeering -- a single count is no big victory for the government.




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