A federal grand jury today has lodged sweeping corruption charges against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his brother, Robert, two former top aides, as well as a prominent Downstate businessman.
The 19-count indictment charges that corruption started under the former governor’s reign almost as soon as he was elected office in 2002.
Blagojevich himself was charged in 16 felony counts including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements.
Also charged as co-defendants were Alonzo Monk, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff; John Harris, his most recent chief of staff who is expected to be a witness in the case; chief Blagojevich fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly; and Springfield powerbroker William F. Cellini.
The 75-page indictment makes numerous references to the former governor’s wife, Patti Blagojevich, who got thousands of dollars from Blagojevich fund-raiser Tony Rezko, who was convicted on public corruption charges last year. She has not, however, been charged with any crimes.
“I’m saddened and hurt but I am not surprised by the indictment,” former Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. “I am innocent. I now will fight in the courts to clear my name. I would ask the good people of Illinois to wait for the trial and afford me the presumption of innocence that they would give to all their friends and neighbors.”
Come to think of it, they probably feel right at home.