Rod Blagojevich (December 10, 1956-) was the former governor of Illinois from 2003-2009. Blagojevich was a state representative before being elected to the United States House of Representatives representing parts of Chicago. In 2010, Blagojevich was put on trial for corruption and attempting to sell Barrack Obama's seat in the senate.
Prior to entering politics Blagojevich briefly competed as an amateur boxer.
Acts of Villainy
Under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Governor Blagojevich was arrested at his home by federal agents on December 9, 2008, and charged with corruption. The Justice Department complaint alleged that the governor conspired to commit several "pay to play" schemes, including attempting "to obtain personal gain ... through the corrupt use" of his authority to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama following his election as president, claiming that in wiretapped recordings Blagojevich discussed his desire to get something in exchange for an appointment to the seat.
After various outreach efforts, he appointed former state attorney general Roland Burris on New Year's Eve 2008. Burris was seated after some initial opposition in mid-January 2009. A trial was set for June 3, 2010, and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald spoke out on the charges, characterizing Blagojevich's actions as trying to auction the open seat off to "the highest bidder".
The Illinois House and Senate moved quickly thereafter to impeach the governor for abuse of power and corruption. On January 8, the Illinois House voted 114–1 (with three abstentions) to impeach Blagojevich. The charges brought by the House emphasized Blagojevich's alleged abuses of power and his alleged attempts to sell legislative authorizations and/or vetoes, and gubernatorial appointments including that of Obama's vacated Senate seat. He was removed from office and prohibited from ever holding public office in the state of Illinois again, by two separate and unanimous votes of 59–0 by the Illinois Senate on January 29, 2009.
Blagojevich was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2009. Most of the charges were related to attempts to sell the Senate seat vacated by then-President-elect Barack Obama. On August 17, 2010, he was convicted on one of the 24 federal charges, a charge of lying to the FBI, and the jury was hung on 23 other counts. The defense did not call a single witness, claiming that prosecutors did not prove their case. Because the jury could not agree on the remaining charges, a mistrial was ordered for those counts. Within 15 minutes after the mistrial was declared, the prosecution team announced that they would definitely pursue a retrial on the 23 mistrial counts. A post-verdict court date was set for August 23, 2010.
Federal prosecutors reduced the number of counts for Blagojevich's retrial, and on June 27, 2011, he was found guilty of 17 of the 20 remaining charges, not guilty on one, and no verdict was rendered by the jury on two counts. He was found guilty on all charges pertaining to the Senate seat, as well as extortion relating to state funds being directed towards a children's hospital and race track. However, he was acquitted on a charge pertaining to the tollway extortion and avoided a guilty verdict (by split decision) on attempting to extort Rahm Emanuel. On December 7, 2011, Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
He reported to prison on March 15, 2012, at Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood, Colorado. His Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) number is 40892-424. Under federal rules, Blagojevich will serve at least 12 years of his sentence after which time he may be eligible for early release in March 2024, based on good behavior.
On 18 February 2020, President Donald Trump officially commuted Blagojevich's sentence, causing him to be released after serving six years in prison. He later declared himself to be a "Trumpocrat" and started a political radio show on WLS-AM.