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Blagojevich verdict: Guilty on 17 counts

Blagojevich verdict: Guilty on 17 counts
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich leaves the federal court after hearing the verdict in his corruption trial on June 27, 2011 in Chicago. A federal jury found Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 charges Monday, including trying to peddle President Obama's vacant Senate seat. UPI/Kamil Krzaczynski | License Photo

CHICAGO, June 27 (UPI) -- A federal jury found former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 charges Monday, including trying to peddle President Obama's vacant Senate seat.

The majority of the guilty verdicts were for wire fraud-related charges and potentially carry a sentence amounting to decades in prison. The jury failed to reach a verdict on charges of attempted bribery and attempted extortion, and found him not guilty on another attempted extortion charge.

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Blagojevich's wife Patti began crying even before the verdicts were read. She slumped against her brother as her husband was convicted, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Blagojevich showed no reaction and as he left the courthouse, answered no questions from reporters.

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"Patti and I are obviously disappointed," Blagojevich said, adding, "I am stunned. ... There's not much left to say."

Blagojevich was greeted by a chorus of boos as he left the courthouse.

On arriving at his North Side home, Blagojevich hugged well-wishers before entering and talking to his two daughters. He said he was sad, disappointed and shocked.

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"Let the people know I fought real hard for them," Blagojevich said of his political career.

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At a news conference after court was dismissed, jurors said they took the case very seriously and delivered a fair verdict.

The foreman said the jurors are well aware that "bargaining behind the scenes" goes on in one's own business but when it is in the public sector, it is unacceptable.

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The jury alerted U.S. District Judge James Zagel early Monday it had reached decisions on 18 of 20 counts Blagojevich faced.

Reading a note from the panel late Monday morning, Zagel said, "The jury has come to a unanimous decision on 18 of 20 counts. … We are confident that we will not be able to come to agreement on the two counts even with further deliberation," the Tribune reported.

Blagojevich, the first Illinois governor to be impeached and booted from office, was accused of trying to use his office for personal gain, including trying to secure a lucrative appointment for himself and campaign cash in exchange for appointing a successor to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama after he won the U.S. presidency in 2008.

Last summer, Blagojevich was convicted on one count of lying to the FBI but jurors in that case deadlocked on the remaining counts. That verdict made him the fourth Illinois governor in the last half century to be convicted.

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Sam Adam Jr., a defense attorney from the first Blagojevich trial, said he was disappointed with Monday's results.

"We've always believed in Rod. We've always believed in his innocence," Adam told WLS-TV, Chicago. "[The] jury made a statement."

He said he looked forward to pursuing an appeal.

Among the grounds, Adam said, was the defense not being allowed to use some of the wiretap tapes that allegedly showed Blagojevich's real intent.

"That's going be a major part of the appeal in this case," Adam said. "I didn't see them [the prosecution] proving the 17 counts."

The jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for two weeks before announcing it had reached decisions on 18 charges, WBBM-AM, Chicago, said.

Zagel asked prosecutors and defense attorneys if they accepted the verdict. Both sides said they did.

As Blagojevich left his home for the Dirksen federal building in downtown Chicago, he told reporters his hands were sweaty and his knees were weak, WLS-TV reported.

"It's in God's hands," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich and his wife held hands as they walked into the courthouse, greeted by some boos from the crowd gathered outside of the federal building, WBBM reported.

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