Who is Rod Blagojevich and what was he convicted of?

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got a new lifeline on Thursday when President Donald Trump ...

Posted: Jun 1, 2018 6:18 AM
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 6:18 AM

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got a new lifeline on Thursday when President Donald Trump said he would consider pardoning or commuting his sentence on his federal corruption conviction.

The opening of the door is a change in fortune for the disgraced former governor, who has been serving time in a federal prison in Colorado since March 2012 on a 14-year sentence for a host of public corruption charges, including trying to solicit money for an appointment to former President Barack Obama's Senate seat after the Chicagoan won the presidency.

Blagojevich (pronounced Bluh-GOY-uh-vitch) was the Democratic governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009, when he was charged with corruption and then impeached by the Legislature.

Over the course of two trials, the first of which resulted in a hung jury on all counts except lying to federal investigators, Blagojevich's famous personality was on full display, both through his testimony and the FBI recordings that were played at his trial.

Blagojevich also showed his flair for showmanship -- and initially got to know Trump -- in a four-episode stint on "The Celebrity Apprentice" in 2010, before his first trial. He was fired after leading his team to losing that week's challenge, as recounted at the time by Chicago magazine.

The gregarious Blagojevich was known for his carefully coiffed hair, love of Elvis and penchant for jogging, as well as being the first Democratic governor elected in the state in 30 years.

After the first jury was hung at 11 to 1 for conviction on key corruption counts, prosecutors tried again -- winning the second trial and securing convictions on 17 of 20 corruption charges, including the shakedowns related to Obama's Senate seat. Blagojevich was also convicted of shakedowns involving a children's hospital, racetrack owner and a building executive.

The trial provided for some dramatic moments, including the playing of secret recordings made of Blagojevich during the shakedowns.

In perhaps the most famous tape, Blagojevich refers to the Senate seat as "f***ing golden."

"I've got this thing and it's f***ing golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for f***ing nothing," jurors heard Blagojevich saying, as preserved by The Chicago Tribune.

At the trial, former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. -- who later pleaded guilty to charges related to misusing campaign funds -- also memorably testified that Blagojevich punished him for not donating him $25,000 to Blagojevich's campaign, testifying dramatically that at a later meeting, Blagojevich snapped his fingers like Elvis and told Jackson he should have given Blagojevich "that $25,000." Blagojevich later said he did not recall that happening.

Blagojevich did show off his memory during the trial, though, giving long autobiographic testimony that included his childhood sports aspirations and a summer construction job that earned him free shampoo that, he recalled, smelled like strawberries.

The prosecutor in the case was US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who helped lead the investigation that resulted in the conviction of Scooter Libby, who Trump has already pardoned. Fitzgerald is also now a member of fired FBI Director and Trump critic James Comey's legal team.

Blagojevich's wife since 1990, Patti, is the daughter of powerful former Chicago Alderman Dick Mell, and the couple has two daughters. Patti Blagojevich appeared on Fox News, a network Trump is known to watch, earlier this month to make the case that Blagojevich was the victim of a rigged system and highlighted the Comey-Fitzgerald connections to his case. Blagojevich wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this week complaining his conviction was unfair.

The Supreme Court and federal appellate courts have declined to take up Blagojevich's case, though an appellate court did throw out five of the counts he was convicted on. The judge in his case nevertheless resentenced him to the same 14-year term.

A recent profile of Blagojevich featured a photo of him taken by the governor himself behind bars, dramatically revealing his famous coif had gone entirely white without hair dye.

Blagojevich replaced former Gov. George Ryan, who was also convicted of federal charges related to taking payoffs in exchange for state business. Blagojevich and Ryan are two of four former Illinois governors since the 1960s.

West Lafayette
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 69°
Kokomo
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 63°
Rensselaer
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 61°
Fowler
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 61°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Frankfort
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Delphi
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
Monticello
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
Logansport
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
Warmer with More Humidity and a Few Storms This Weekend
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 77565

Reported Deaths: 3105
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16304733
Lake7840283
Elkhart499287
Allen4103164
St. Joseph368183
Hamilton2941104
Vanderburgh208215
Hendricks1972109
Cass18099
Johnson1800119
Porter139139
Clark133350
Tippecanoe126312
Madison104866
LaPorte95730
Howard93865
Kosciusko87212
Bartholomew84447
Floyd83750
Marshall80123
Monroe77732
Delaware76852
Vigo75213
Dubois71812
Noble70829
Boone70446
Hancock69439
Jackson6065
Warrick60030
Shelby57228
LaGrange56910
Grant53230
Dearborn52228
Morgan49235
Henry46020
Clinton4564
Wayne40210
White38011
Montgomery36321
Lawrence35827
Harrison35524
Decatur34732
Putnam3288
Daviess28420
Miami2792
Scott27810
Jasper2592
Greene25634
Franklin24915
Gibson2434
DeKalb2424
Jennings23212
Ripley2208
Steuben2173
Fayette2057
Carroll2033
Perry18813
Posey1810
Starke1817
Orange17924
Wabash1795
Wells1782
Fulton1742
Jefferson1722
Knox1681
Whitley1606
Tipton15416
Sullivan1521
Washington1481
Clay1415
Spencer1393
Randolph1325
Huntington1303
Newton12110
Adams1202
Owen1101
Jay940
Rush914
Pulaski841
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Pike660
Ohio656
Benton630
Vermillion610
Parke591
Switzerland560
Martin500
Crawford480
Union410
Warren251
Unassigned0207

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events