SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors urged an appeals court to reject former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appeal of his conviction on bribery and fraud charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Riggs Bonamici said Blagojevich's appeal that he was guilty of nothing more than political "horse trading" was an "extraordinary claim and that the verdicts were supported by the evidence, WAMQ-TV, Chicago, reported Wednesday.
"No matter the price he charges, a public official who sells his office engages in crime, not politics," Bonamici wrote.
The government's response was filed with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals minutes before the deadline Tuesday.
Bonacimi's filing cited extensive argument on Blagojevich's attempts to sell the Barak Obama's Senate seat when he was elected president in 2008. The former governor, who was impeached and removed from office, also was convicted of trying to seek funding of a non-profit group he hoped to operate after leaving the governor's office, among other charges.
"There is no basis for arguing that Blagojevich was entitled to exchange the Senate appointment for millions of dollars -- regardless of how the money was to be used," Bonamici wrote. "[Evidence] showing that Blagojevich intended to defraud the people of his honest services by obtaining a bribe in exchange for the Senate appointment was bountiful."
One of the more controversial aspects of Blagojevich's conviction was Judge James Zagel's rulings that barred Blagojevich from arguing to the jury he believed his actions were legal. In their court documents, prosecutors said Zagel's prohibitions were correct, WMAQ said.
"None of the charges ... required proof that defendant knew his actions were illegal," Bonamici said. "Thus, testimony that defendant believed his actions were legal [or did not know his actions were illegal] was irrelevant to any issue in the case."
Blagojevich is serving 14 years at a federal penitentiary in Englewood, Colo.