Jury hung on 23 of 24 counts in Blago trial

By The Columbia Chronicle

by: Michael Ranieri, Meghan Keyes and Darryl Holliday

After weeks of waiting for a verdict, an anxious crowd gathered at the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn St., on Aug. 17 in response to the jury’s decision on the Rod Blagojevich trial.

The governor-turned-celebrity triumphantly shook any hand within reach as he left his hearing amidst cheers and congratulations.

George Gerstman, a Chicago patents lawyer, was on his way home when he spotted a group of approximately 25 people waiting to catch a glimpse of Blagojevich and decided to join the fray.

“No one knows what’s going to happen,” he said as the crowd grew. “It’s one of those things where you just can’t tell.”

But the verdict came soon enough. Convicted of one out of 24 charges—lying to federal authorities—Blagojevich left the court house, for the most part, a free man.

After 14 days of deliberation the six-man, six-woman jury came out deadlocked on the remaining 23 charges, which included allegations of bribery, attempted extortion, racketeering and a number of similar conspiracy charges. This includes an alleged attempt to sell President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.

Blagojevich’s singular conviction carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and is a small fraction of the total possible penalties that could have resulted from the trial.

Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich’s defense attorney, said that from day one the government could not prove Rod Blagojevich was guilty of a single offense when it came to any kind of corruption.

Prosecutors, despite Adam’s claim, have promised a retrial of the case, which could cost taxpayers as much as $30 million.

Blagojevich, on the other hand, has vowed to appeal his single conviction.