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A Timeline of Blagojevich’s Career, Legal Saga

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Getty/Scott Olsen

Getty/Scott Olsen

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CHICAGO (AP) — Highlights from impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s political career and legal battles:

—1993: Blagojevich begins a three-year stint as an Illinois House representative.

—1997: Blagojevich begins a six-year tenure in the U.S. Congress.

—2002: Blagojevich, billing himself an anti-corruption candidate, wins the Illinois gubernatorial election.

—2004: The year of the first public indications that the Blagojevich administration is under federal investigation.

—2006: In a letter, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he has witnesses to “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” in the Blagojevich administration.

Oct. 11: Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top Blagojevich fundraiser, is indicted on federal charges of using his political influence to squeeze kickbacks from companies seeking to do business with the state.

Oct. 27: Stuart Levine, who ingratiated himself with Rezko, pleads guilty to mail fraud and money laundering as part of the Rezko scheme and agrees to cooperate.

Nov. 7: Blagojevich re-elected, handily beating Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka.

—2007:Dec.: Blagojevich aide Chris Kelly indicted on tax charges related to gambling debts.

—2008: June: A federal jury convicts Rezko of fraud, money laundering and bribery.

Dec. 9: Federal agents arrest Blagojevich on corruption charges at his Chicago home.

Dec. 19: A defiant Blagojevich holds first news conference since his arrest, proclaims his innocence and says he will not resign. Says Blagojevich: “I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath.”

—2009: Jan: The Illinois House votes 114-1 to impeach Blagojevich, the first Illinois governor in history to be impeached. Blagojevich begins a media blitz to proclaim his innocence. The Illinois Senate votes unanimously to remove Blagojevich from office; Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn sworn in as governor.

April 2: Blagojevich is formally indicted with five co-defendants — his last chief of staff, John Harris; fundraiser Christopher Kelly; a former chief of staff, Lon Monk; Springfield powerbroker William F. Cellini and his brother, Rob Blagojevich.

July 8: John Harris pleads guilty to wire fraud. He accepts a plea deal and agrees to testify against his former boss.

Sept. 12: Blagojevich friend and fundraiser Christopher Kelly commits suicide days before he was supposed to report to prison to begin an eight-year term for tax and mail fraud charges.

Oct. 20: Lon Monk pleads guilty to wire fraud and agrees to testify against Blagojevich.

—2010: March: Blagojevich appears on TV show “Celebrity Apprentice” with Cyndi Lauper, Bret Michaels and others celebrities.

June 3: Jury selection in Blagojevich’s first corruption trial begins.

July 21: Rod Blagojevich’s attorneys rest without calling a single witness to the stand.

Aug. 16: After deliberating 14 days, a deadlocked jury reaches a verdict on just one count — lying to the FBI. Prosecutors immediately announce in court they intend to retry Blagojevich.

Aug 26: Prosecutors drop all charges against Rod Blagojevich’s co-defendant brother, Robert Blagojevich.

—2011: April 20: Blagojevich retrial begins.

May 25: Former White House chief of staff and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is called to the stand by the defense, and he is on for fewer than five minutes. The defense also calls U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is also on the stand only briefly.

May 26: Blagojevich finally fulfills a pledge to speak directly to jurors, taking the witness stand. His first words to jurors are, “I used to be your governor. I’m here today … to tell you the truth.” In total, he is on the stand for seven days.

June 27: After nine days of deliberating, jurors in the retrial reach a verdict, agreeing on 18 of 20 counts.

___

Sources: AP reports, court documents, state and federal records.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

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