CHICAGO — Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Monday morning in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich after his defense rested its case last week without calling him to the stand.
The closing arguments before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel in Chicago are expected to take all day. Afterward, the former governor’s fate and that of his brother Robert will be in the hands of a jury.
Blagojevich is charged with attempting to use the powers of his office to personally profit and enrich his campaign coffers.
One alleged pay-to-play scheme involved the selection of the former Bear, Stearns & Co. to run the books on the state’s $10 billion taxable general obligation pension bond issue and the decision to issue all the bonds in one deal on the day of pricing in June 2003. The most prominent charge alleges the former governor sought to personally profit from his power to appoint President Obama’s replacement after the Illinois senator was elected president.
Blagojevich faces 24 criminal counts, including racketeering, attempted extortion, bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit extortion. His elder brother, who served as his campaign finance chairman in 2008, faces five counts of wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and bribery conspiracy. The trial began June 3.
The defense will argue that prosecutors failed to prove that any of the alleged schemes — some caught on wire-tap recordings — amounted to anything more than talk and there that was no proof Blagojevich ever profited. Prosecutors will argue that the evidence shows he conspired to break the law, which is a criminal offense. Blagojevich had vowed to take the stand, but his lawyers decided to rest without calling any witnesses.