FBI agents arrest Illinois governor on corruption charges

[JURIST] Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich [official website] and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested Tuesday by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official website] on charges of corruption [complaint, PDF]. They have both been charged [DOJ press release] with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. They are accused of conspiring to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama and obtaining illegal campaign contributions. They are also accused [Chicago Tribune report] of threatening to withhold assistance to the Chicago Tribune with the sale of Wrigley Field unless two editorial writers who had been critical of Blagojevich were fired. Both men were taken into federal custody early Tuesday morning and are scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate later in the day.

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan [JURIST news archive] was sentenced last year and jailed [JURIST reports] on corruption charges. Ryan's trial began in 2005, and in 2006 a jury found him guilty [JURIST reports] on multiple counts of corruption and fraud [indictment, PDF] in connection with a bribes-for-licenses scandal that occurred during Ryan's term as Illinois Secretary of State. Ryan made national headlines and won praise in some quarters in January 2003 when, just before leaving office, he commuted the executions [CNN report; speech transcript] of all Illinois inmates then on death row.

 

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