Blago Guilty on 17 Counts, Faces Up to 300 Years in Prison

From the Associated Press:

Rod Blagojevich, who rode his talkative everyman image to two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him a national punch line, was convicted Monday of a wide range of corruption charges, including the incendiary allegation that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

The verdict was a bitter defeat for Blagojevich, who had spent 2 1/2 years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand. His defense team had insisted that hours of FBI wiretap recordings were just the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud. He faces up to 300 years in prison, although sentencing guidelines are sure to reduce his time behind bars.

The decision capped a long-running spectacle in which Blagojevich became famous for blurting on a recorded phone call that his ability to appoint Obama’s successor to the Senate was “f—ing golden” and that he wouldn’t let it go “for f—ing nothing.”

Blagojevich becomes the second straight Illinois governor convicted of corruption. His predecessor, George Ryan, is now serving 6 1/2 years in federal prison.

Judge James Zagel has ruled that Blagojevich will be barred from travelling outside the area without permission from the judge. A status hearing for sentencing was set for Aug. 1.

The case exploded into scandal when Blagojevich was awakened by federal agents on Dec. 9, 2008, at his Chicago home and was led away in handcuffs. Federal prosecutors had been investigating his administration for years, and some of his closest cronies had already been convicted.

“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said before a bank of television cameras after the arrest.

Blagojevich, who was also accused of shaking down businessmen for campaign contributions, was swiftly impeached and removed from office.

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