In 2010, Robert Blagojevich was on trial alongside his brother, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, on corruption charges. All of the charges against Robert were dropped while his brother would have a retrial. Robert discusses the details of the first trial and his current relationship with his brother.
On Monday, Robert talked with Elizabeth Brackett about his recently published book, Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice.
In 2011, Chicago Tonight spoke with him about Rod’s 14-year prison sentence. Read the interview. View Chicago Tonight’s Blagojevich Trial 2010 and Blagojevich Trial 2011 coverage, The Blagojevich Retrial blog, and Blagojevich Archive for more on Rod Blagojevich and his criminal case. View a timeline of the chronology of the 2010 trial against the Blagojevich brothers and the events leading up to the 2011 retrial of Rod Blagojevich.
In August 2008, Robert Blagojevich began serving as the chairman of Friends of Blagojevich, a campaign fund to support Rod Blagojevich’s campaign for governor. On December 9, 2008, Rod Blagojevich was arrested at his Ravenswood Manor home by federal agents on corruption charges that included an alleged effort to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. Later that month, the governor appointed former State Attorney General Roland Burris to Obama’s Senate seat amid an Illinois House investigation into whether he should be impeached.
A month after his arrest, Rod Blagojevich was impeached, making him the first governor in state history to be impeached. On January 29, 2009, the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to remove the governor from office and bar him from holding future office.
On April 2, 2009, the governor and Robert Blagojevich were indicted, along with John Harris, Alonzo Monk, Christopher Kelly, and William F. Cellini, Sr. Robert Blagojevich was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit extortion, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to commit bribery. Robert and Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty at their formal arraignment on April 14, 2009.
The trial against the Blagojevich brothers began in June 2010, and in mid-July, Robert testified in his own defense, insisting he never sought money from donors who were beneficiaries of actions taken by his brother in his role as governor.
Wiretapped conversations between the Blagojevich brothers about the Senate vacancy after Obama was elected president were played while Robert was on the stand. The conversations included Robert’s encouraging Rod to pursue the head of the Health and Human Services Department, which Robert described as the duo only discussing political horse-trading.
Closing arguments for the trial ended July 27, 2010, without the former governor taking the stand. After 14 days of deliberation, the jury was hung on all but one count, bringing the six-week trial to an end. On August 26, 2010, federal prosecutors announced they would not retry Robert Blagojevich and all charges against him were dropped. Rod Blagojevich’s retrial began in 2011.