Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that they would dismiss all charges against Robert Blagojevich, the brother of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive]. Robert Blagojevich faced four counts for his suspected involvement in the alleged conspiracy to sell the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. In a hearing Thursday before Judge James Zagel of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website], prosecutors announced that they would proceed with their case against Rod Blagojevich. While Rod Blagojevich was found guilty [JURIST report] earlier this month of making false statements to the FBI, the jury was deadlocked on the 23 additional charges. Zagel announced that the retrial of Rod Blagojevich will likely begin in early January.
Rod and Robert Blagojevich and four associates were indicted [JURIST report] on corruption charges in April 2009 by a federal grand jury. Rod Blagojevich was charged with numerous felonies including wire fraud, attempted extortion, racketeering conspiracy, extortion conspiracy and making false statements. The indictment alleged that the suspects systematically planned to use Blagojevich's office for their own gain, including conspiring to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by Obama, obtaining illegal campaign contributions, and 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. In January 2009, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office.