Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ex-Illinois governor convicted of corruption

The Associated Press

CHICAGO | 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 corruption charges, including the incendiary allegation that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

Blagojevich had spent 2 1/2 years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand. He faces up to 300 years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines are sure to significantly reduce his time behind bars.

The verdict appeared to be the conclusion, at last, to the spectacle of Blagojevich’s political career, which began its descent shortly after Obama was elected president in November 2008.
A month after Election Day, Blagojevich, who was required to name a senator to replace Obama, was arrested, and federal agents revealed that they had secretly recorded hundreds of hours of damaging phone calls by him and his advisers.

Blagojevich was accused of trying to secure campaign contributions, a cabinet post or a high-paying job in exchange for his official acts as governor. Blagojevich was acquitted on one charge of bribery, and the jury deadlocked on two counts of attempted extortion, but convictions came on the bulk of the counts and on those related to the Senate seat — the claims that had drawn international headlines.
After hearing the verdict, Blagojevich turned to defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky and asked, “What happened?”

The former governor spoke only briefly as he left the courthouse.

“Well, among the many lessons I’ve learned from this whole experience is to try to speak a little bit less, so I’m going to keep my remarks kind of short,” Blagojevich said.

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

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. “The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said after the arrest.

Blagojevich, who was also accused of shaking down businessmen for campaign contributions, was swiftly impeached and removed from office. Fitzgerald pledged to retry the governor after the first jury deadlocked on all but the least serious charges.

This time, the 12 jurors voted to convict the 54-year-old Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts after deliberating nine days. He also faces up to five additional years in prison for his previous conviction of lying to the FBI.

The jurors agreed with prosecutors that Blagojevich had tried to sell the Senate in a variety of ways, including an attempt to steer it to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in exchange for $1.5 million in campaign cash promised by Jackson supporters.

After his arrest, Blagojevich called federal prosecutors “cowards and liars.”

In what many saw as embarrassing indignities for a former governor, he sent his wife to the jungle for a reality television show, “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here,” where she had to eat a tarantula. He later showed his own ineptitude at simple office skills before being fired on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

In the second trial, attorneys for the former governor put on a defense — highlighted by a chatty Blagojevich taking the witness stand for seven days to portray himself as a big talker but not a criminal.

Blagojevich seemed to believe he could talk his way out of trouble from the witness stand. Indignant one minute, laughing the next, seemingly in tears once, he endeavored to counteract the blunt, greedy man he appeared to be on FBI wiretaps.

He told jurors his talk on the wiretaps merely displayed his approach to decision-making: to invite a whirlwind of ideas — “good ones, bad ones, stupid ones” — then toss the ill-conceived ones out. To demonstrate the absurdities such brainstorming could generate, he said he once considered appointing himself to the Senate seat so he could travel to Afghanistan and help hunt down Osama bin Laden.

Other times, when a prosecutor read transcripts where Blagojevich seems to speak clearly of trading the Senate seat for a job, Blagojevich told jurors, “I see what I say here, but that’s not what I meant.”
Among the tapes played for jurors was his infamous rant: “I’ve got this thing and it’s f---ing golden, and I’m just not giving it up for f---ing nothing. I’m not gonna do it.”
The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Lawyer indicted--Thought he was above the Law

Here's another example of an attorney who thought he was above the law and ran rough-shot over the lives of others until the NATIONAL INQUIRER printed the truth while the "Lame Stream Media" fell all over this Democratic Presidential Hopeful--signing his praises.

Kelly Gordon Rogers Attorney Dallas has shown similar brazen disrespect for the rule of law and was also indicted.

By , Updated: Friday, June 3, 11:34 AM

Former vice presidential nominee John Edwards was indicted Friday on charges of violating federal election law for allegedly using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign donations to conceal an extramarital affair during his 2008 run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former U.S. senator from North Carolina was charged in a six-count indictment with conspiring to receive the contributions from political donors and using them to hide his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and her pregnancy from the public so his campaign would not be damaged. Edwards lost the nomination to Barack Obama, then a senator from Illinois, and the affair’s subsequent exposure destroyed Edwards’s once-promising political career.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in North Carolina, says the illegal contributions paid for Hunter’s living and medical expenses, along with travel needed to shield her from reporters. Prosecutors said this violated federal election laws that limit individual contributions to a campaign and require reporting of donations.

“We will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws,’’ said Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Our campaign finance system is designed to preserve the integrity of democratic elections — for the presidency and all other elected offices — and we will vigorously pursue abuses of the kind alleged today.”

Lawyers for Edwards were expected to speak to reporters when the former candidate appears in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Friday afternoon. They have indicated they will vigorously fight the charges. Edwards lawyer Gregory B. Craig last week strongly denied any illegal activity by Edwards and accused prosecutors of exaggerating the strength of the allegations.

“John Edwards has done wrong in his life — and he knows it better than anyone — but he did not break the law,” Craig wrote last week. “The Justice Department has wasted millions of dollars and thousands of hours on a matter more appropriately a topic for the Federal Election Commission to consider, not a criminal court.”

In response to the indictment, Craig said Friday that Edwards “will tell the court he is innocent of all charges, and will plead not guilty.” He again denied that Edwards broke the law and said he “will mount a vigorous defense.”

The Edwards legal team on Friday also released statements from his 2008 campaign counsel and a former Federal Election Commission chairman disputing the charges.

“It is my view that . . . these payments would not be considered to be either campaign contributions or campaign expenditures within the meaning of the campaign finance laws,” wrote former FEC chairman Scott E. Thomas.

Echoing what attorneys for Edwards have said, he added: “I believe that the theory on which the government intends to base its prosecution is without precedent in federal election law.”