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Blago's brother tries to limit tapes heard

Dec. 23, 2009 at 7:41 AM   |   Comments

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CHICAGO, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The brother of impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked a federal judge to keep taped phone calls with his wife and son out of court.

Attorneys for Robert Blagojevich Tuesday sought to suppress hundreds of calls between their client and his family, arguing the order authorizing the wiretaps excluded non-criminal conversations, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

Robert Blagojevich, who oversaw Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund in 2008, was indicted on wire fraud under the controversial honest services statute, which covers schemes in which public officials fail to perform their duties honestly. That statute is being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"To the extent that they did it, my client is extremely upset, as is his wife," attorney Michael Ettinger said, arguing that the taped conversation topics were unlawful, but were private. "It's wrong; they violated the statute. And it's the principle of it. They can't break the law and get away with it."

Ettinger said the FBI taped more than five hours of private conversations between Robert Blagojevich and his wife or with his son, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ettinger said Tuesday's motion was "the first step to subsequent motions regarding the tapes," and didn't indicate what Robert Blagojevich's defense team would argue regarding the remaining thousands of phone calls captured by the FBI.

Prosecutors allege Rod Blagojevich violated his official duties by seeking to use his power to benefit himself. Among the charges is seeking recompense for filling the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

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