Yet Another Illinois Government Corruption Trial Takes Center Stage

June 03, 2010

Impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s federal trial begins today, and there is Chicago Real Estate involved.

Blagojevich is accused of trading state decisions for cash and campaign contributions and attempting to “sell” President Obama’s former Senate seat while governor.

The prosecutors on the case are the same ones that put behind bars Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a Chicago real estate developer whose connections with the impeached governor are a big part of this federal case.

Chicago real estate

This is the Blagojevich home at 2934 W. Sunnyside Avenue.

Starting in the fall of 2003, Rezko allegedly came up with a bunch of ways to make it look like Rod’s wife, Patti, was working as a real estate agent for his company, and he paid her thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors say Patti did virtually nothing as a realtor to earn that money. In 2004, she wrote a check for $38,000 to pay for renovations done to the Blagojevich’s Ravenswood Manor home. Rod and Patti say that money came from their own checking account, but evidence shows that Rezko had just moved to Patti $40,000 for brokerage services she never performed.

Patti has been named a conspirator in her husband’s case but hasn’t been charged and might testify in court. Rod has avowed his innocence to anyone who will listen to him since his December 2008 arrest.

Jury selection begins today in his trial, which is expected to take three to four months and could possibly taint the upcoming election for the Democrats.

Blagojevich, 53, who was removed from office in his second term as governor of Illinois, faces 24 federal criminal counts including bribery, extortion and racketeering. Each count carries a sentence of 5 to 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Illinois has a long history of political corruption. In this category alone: Blagojevich is the sixth Illinois governor to be indicted and, if convicted, would be the fourth Illinois governor to serve time.

The circus is coming to town.

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[…] Rod Blagojevich left his Chicago home this morning to find out his fate in court, he told the reporters perched outside, “My hands […]

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