Rod Blagojevich appeal is 'extraordinary'

Federal prosecutors dismissed the former Illinois governor's appeal to have his conviction overturned as without merit.
Posted By Gabrielle Levy  |  Nov. 14, 2013 at 8:34 AM
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Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich hoped to convince a federal appeals court to reconsider his corruption conviction for trying to sell the Senate seat of then-president-elect Barack Obama, but prosecutors aren't having it.

Blagojevich's claim he was guilty of nothing more than typical political "horse trading" is an "extraordinary claim," said assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Riggs Bonamici, in a 169-page response filed moments before a midnight deadline on Tuesday.

"No matter the price he charges, a public official who sells his office engages in crime, not politics," the report said. "The verdicts were supported by abundant evidence, and the defendant received a fair trial."

The former governor, 56, was convicted on 18 charges of corruption, including trying to secure lucrative jobs for himself after he was to leave office, including a potential appointment to Obama's cabinet.

"The evidence amply proved that Blagojevich sought to exchange official acts for money, property, and things of value, the evidence was sufficient to permit the jury to find the defendant’s guilt on all of the charged offenses," Bonamici wrote. "The fact that these things were sought for Blagojevich’s own benefit is evidence of his criminal intent. And that evidence was overwhelming."

Blagojevich's team filed an appeal in July, alleging that U.S. District Judge James Zagel made it impossible for his attorneys to properly defend him in his original trials in 2010 and 2011, and made the former governor look "foolish" by inducing him to take the stand.

If his conviction stands, Blagojevich, 56, will stay in prison until 2024.

[Chicago Tribune] [NBC Chicago]

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