CHICAGO - Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty yesterday to federal corruption charges alleging his drive for financial gain influenced state legislation, jobs, and contracts - including the selection of Bear, Stearns & Co. to lead the state's $10 billion pension bond sale in 2003.
Blagojevich and his brother Robert Blagojevich both entered not guilty pleas during their arraignments before U.S. District Court Judge James B. Zagel in the federal court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. Four others - former chiefs of staff Alonzo Monk and John Harris, fundraiser Chris Kelly, and businessman William F. Cellini Sr. - were also charged in the 19-count indictment announced by U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald earlier this month. Arraignments of the four are scheduled for later this week and next week.