After deliberating for two weeks, a federal jury today convicted Rod Blagojevich of only one of the 24 counts against him – lying to the FBI – and announced it was deadlocked on the other 23 counts.
The jury also deadlocked on all four counts against the former governor’s brother, Robert.
Federal prosecutors wasted no time announcing plans to retry both men. “It is absolutely our intent to retry this,” said Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar. “We could be here tomorrow.”
Blagojevich faces up to five years in prison for making false statements to the FBI.
As the jury’s verdict was read, the former governor pursed his lips and shook his head slightly. His wife, Patti, rested her head on the chair in front of her and shook her head no several times.
After the judge left to the call of “all rise,” Patti didn’t stand up and looked angry with her head down, staring at her lap.
As jurors filed out, Patti collapsed into her seat and the former governor’s attorney, Sam Adam Jr. moved next to Blagojevich and put his arm around him, rubbing his back.
Declaring a mistrial on the 23 counts, U.S. District Judge James Zagel gave the prosecution until Aug. 26 to formally announce plans to retry Blagojevich and his brother.
In the lobby of the federal building, Robert Blagojevich said jurors saw him as “an innocent target of the federal government.”
“I have lived through the most surreal experience anyone can live through,” said Robert Blagojevich, adding that he plans to spend time with his wife and his son now that the trial is over. “I spoke honestly and truthfully and answered the questions forthrightly.”
The verdict was announced shortly before 4:30 p.m. Blagojevich and his wife arrived at the courthouse for the announcement around 3:45 p.m.
“God bless you, God bless you, I didn’t let you down,” Blago said as he shook hands with admirers. He also high-fived spectators.
As he entered the courtroom on the 25th floor, he said: “How are ya’ doin’? Say a prayer for us.”
Robert Blagojevich arrived with his wife and son around 3:55 p.m., waiving to onlookers and reporters gathered in the lobby.
U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald and Robert Grant, head of the FBI in Chicago, were in the courtroom for the announcement.
Earlier today, the jury sent out a note indicating it might be getting close to concluding its deliberations.
In the note, jurors asked for two things: a copy of the oath they took when they were sent to deliberate; and instructions from the judge on how to fill out a verdict form when they can’t agree on a specific count.
“Do we leave it blank or report the vote split?” the note asked.
Zagel agreed to send a copy of the oath to jurors and said he would also instruct them to write on top of the verdict form if they cannot reach a consensus on a count.
Here is the oath the jury took just before deliberations began: “Do you and each of you solemnly swear that you will well and truly try and a true deliverance make between the United States and ______, the defendant at the bar, and a true verdict render according to the evidence, so help you God?”
Last week, in an earlier note, jurors said they had deliberated for many days “without rancor.” The request for a copy of the oath could signal that the harmony in the jury room has begun to fray.
On Monday, Zagel agreed to hand over the transcripts of former deputy governor Bradley Tusk’s testimony after jurors asked for them. They’re the first witness transcripts jurors will have with them in the jury room since they started deliberating at the end of July.
Tusk told the court in June that Blagojevich planned to hold up a $2 million grant to a school in then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel’s district until his Hollywood-agent brother, Ari, held a fundraiser.