Chicago An attorney for Rod Blagojevich declared Tuesday that the former Illinois governor is an honest man who “didn’t take a dime” of illegal money and simply trusted the wrong people to handle his fundraising before he was ousted by corruption allegations.
In a theatrical opening statement, attorney Sam Adam Jr. outlined for the first time how the defense plans to fight charges that Blagojevich tried to sell President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and sought to use his office to line his pockets and those of insiders.
“The guy ain’t corrupt,” said Adam, whose remarks seemed at times more like a tent revival than a courtroom presentation. He said Blagojevich and his wife will both take the stand.
Adam walked briskly back and forth across the courtroom, alternately shouted and whispered, and pointed his finger with his arm extended. He said Blagojevich was fooled by people close to him and was a poor judge of their character.
“Not a single penny” of ill-gotten money went into Blagojevich’s campaign fund or the former governor’s own pockets, he said.
“You have to be comatose not to figure out how to get a dollar out of $52 billion,” Adam said, referring to the Illinois state budget. “But who didn’t? Him!” he said indicating his client.
Hours earlier, a federal prosecutor told jurors that Blagojevich conducted “a series of illegal shakedowns” in which entities that got state funding would also contribute to his campaign. He allegedly lied to the FBI when questioned about his fundraising activities.
And when Obama was elected — an event that empowered the governor to appoint Obama’s successor in the Senate — Blagojevich’s “golden ticket arrived,” prosecutor Carrie E. Hamilton said.
If convicted, Blagojevich could receive up to 415 years in prison and fines totaling $6 million.