[JURIST] Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive], his brother Robert Blagojevich, and four associates were indicted [press release] on corruption charges Thursday by a federal grand jury. Rod Blagojevich was charged with 16 felonies including wire fraud, attempted extortion, racketeering conspiracy, extortion conspiracy, and making false statements. Others indicted include Blagojevich's former chief of staff John Harris, former general counsel and campaign fund chairman Alonzo Monk, campaign fundraiser and former fund chairman Christopher Kelly, and fundraiser William Cellini. In addition to prior charges, the indictment alleges that the suspects systematically planned to use Blagojevich's office for their own gain:
[B]eginning in 2002 and continuing after Blagojevich was first elected governor, Blagojevich and Monk, along with Kelly and previously convicted co-schemer Antoin “Tony” Rezko, agreed that they would use the offices of governor and chief of staff for financial gain, which would be divided among them with the understanding that the money would be distributed after
Blagojevich left public office;
[I]n 2003, Blagojevich, Monk, Kelly, Rezko and other co-schemers implemented this agreement by directing lucrative state business relating to the refinancing of billions of dollars in State of Illinois Pension Obligation Bonds to a company whose lobbyist agreed to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rezko out of the fee the lobbyist would collect, and Rezko in turn agreed to split the money with Blagojevich, Monk and Kelly…
The indictment also alleges that Blagojevich lied to federal agents about his knowledge of campaign contributors and delayed a grant to a publicly-supported school while trying to "leverage a U.S. Congressman, who supported the school, or the Congressman’s brother, to hold a campaign fundraiser for Blagojevich."
In January, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office. Blagojevich is the first Illinois governor to be impeached and removed from office. Blagojevich had boycotted [JURIST report] the impeachment proceedings against him, appearing only at the end of the Senate hearings to make a final plea to remain in office. Blagojevich and Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December.