On Monday a jury found Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois, guilty of trying to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama’s election as president in 2008.
When allegations of corruption hit in December 2008, Blagojevich went from hard-charging governor to humiliated politician to media spectacle. Now, his story takes on a new chapter as a convicted felon.
Blagojevich’s conviction was not certain. Despite many hours of secretly taped conversations in which the then-governor sought various forms of personal gain — campaign money, appointment to a prominent office, various jobs with rich pay — his first trial ended in August with the jury deadlocked on all but one charge. That jury did find him guilty of lying to the FBI.
This time around, the jury took a long while — 10 days of deliberation — but brought conviction on 17 federal charges. The jury members could not reach agreement on two more charges and acquitted him on another.
Blogojevich, a Democrat, is 54 years old. His wife was in the courtroom when the verdicts came down Monday. He has two daughters who did not attend.
“I, frankly, am stunned,” Blagojevich said, according to CNN. “There’s not much left to say, other than we want to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and then try to sort things out. I’m sure we’ll be seeing you guys again.”
Illinois now has the dubious distinction of having four governors convicted of crimes.
Other than Blagojevich, who was charged two years into his term as governor, the most recent criminal was George Ryan, a Republican who served from 1999 to 2003. He was later convicted of racketeering and other crimes while governor.
In the early 1970s, Dan Walker, a Democrat, was convicted of bank fraud and other crimes. Walker’s convictions were for crimes after he left office.
Otto Kerner, also a Democrat, was governor through most of the 1960s. His convictions were for bribery.