Blagojevich pleads not guilty to amended corruption charges

Blagojevich pleads not guilty to amended corruption charges

[JURIST] Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive] pleaded not guilty Wednesday to amended corruption charges. Blagojevich entered the plea [Chicago Tribune report] in response to eight amended charges [JURIST report], including racketeering, attempted extortion, bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to commit extortion. Those additional charges allow prosecutors to try Blagojevich without relying on the federal honest services fraud statute [18 USC § 1346 text], which some believe the Supreme Court may soon declare unconstitutional in some contexts. Following his appearance in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Blagojevich released a statement [text] asking that all of the recorded conversations that the government has be played during the course of the trial. Blagojevich has indicated that he will testify at the trial [WSJ report], which is scheduled to start June 3 [JURIST report].

In April, Blagojevich pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts [JURIST reports], including wire fraud, attempted extortion, racketeering conspiracy, extortion conspiracy, and making false statements. In January 2009, 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 and his chief of staff John Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008 on allegations that they had conspired to sell the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama.