Blagojevich Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges
April 2, 2009Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and five others were indicted Thursday on charges of scheming to auction off President Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat, pressuring a congressman for campaign money and lying to FBI agents. The 19-count indictment alleges Blagojevich and his aides discussed the possibility he could get a Cabinet post in the new president's administration, substantial fundraising assistance or a high-paying job in exchange for the Senate seat.
Obama's Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said the White House would not comment.
The indictment also charged that Blagojevich was involved in a corrupt scheme to get a massive kickback in exchange for the refinancing of billions of dollars in state pension funds. It said he took part in a plan with convicted political fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko and two others to make money while Blagojevich was governor, then split the profits after he left the office.
Blagojevich, 52, and others are accused of illegally pressuring an Illinois congressman for help in raising funds and lying when FBI agents came to question him.
His publicist, Glenn Selig, said a statement would be issued shortly.
Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on a criminal complaint, and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald had faced a Tuesday deadline to supplant it with an indictment from a federal grand jury.
The Democrat's arrest meant curtains for his political career: The Illinois House impeached him Jan. 9, and the Senate convicted him and removed him from office Jan. 29.
Others charged in the indictment include the former governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich, one-time chief fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly, former aide Lon Monk, Springfield lobbyist-millionaire William F. Cellini and former chief of staff John Harris.
Prosecutors said Harris has agreed to cooperate in the case.
Blagojevich's administration has been under federal investigation for years. Kelly and Rezko already have been convicted of federal crimes and are facing prison.
The former governor's wife, Patti, had been mentioned prominently in the complaint and was the focus of considerable speculation, but she was not charged in the indictment.
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