CHICAGO — A federal jury found former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on Tuesday of one count of lying to federal agents, and the judge said he intends to declare a mistrial on the more serious remaining 23 counts.
Prosecutors immediately vowed to retry the case against Blagojevich and his co-defendant brother, Robert Blagojevich of Nashville, Tenn., as soon as possible. The charges had included the accusation that they had tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat and that the governor had tried to use the power of his office for personal gain.
Rod Blagojevich — known for his showmanlike, over-the-top personality — showed no emotion as the verdict was read. Before jurors came in, he sat with his hands folded, looking down, picking nervously at his fingernails.
The jury's conclusion ended an 11-week trial during which a foul-mouthed Blagojevich was heard on secretly made FBI wiretap tapes saying the power to name a senator was "(expletive) golden" and that he wasn't going to give up "for (expletive) nothing."
The verdict, on one of the less serious counts against Blagojevich, came on the 14th day of deliberations. The count on which he was found guilty included accusations that he lied to federal agents when he said he did not track campaign contributions and kept a "firewall" between political campaigns and government work. It carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. Some of the more serious charges, such as racketeering, carried up to a 20-year penalty.
Judge James B. Zagel set a hearing for Aug. 26 to decide manner and timing of the retrial.
It had been clear that jurors were struggling. Last week, they told Zagel they had reached a unanimous decision on just two counts and had not even considered 11 others. There was no immediate explanation about whether they later disagreed.
Jurors appeared more haggard Tuesday than they did during the trial. As they filed into the courtroom, many appeared nervous, some looking down at the ground as Zagel read the verdict form to himself first, then passed it on to a bailiff. They had asked earlier Tuesday for advice on filling out their verdict forms and a copy of the oath they took before deliberating.
The jurors did not remain at the courthouse to explain their decisions. Soon after the verdict, a spokesman for Zagel said the jurors had left and would not appear in a room set aside for them to speak to the media.
"They're going home," said Joel Daly, a spokesman for Zagel. "A lot would like to talk to media folks, but they are plain tired."
After the verdict was read, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. rubbed his own forehead and mouth, appearing to shake his head in disgust. The former governor's wife, Patti Blagojevich, leaned over in her chair, shaking her head.
Defense attorneys had argued that Blagojevich was a big talker, but never committed a crime. They took a huge gamble by deciding not to call any witnesses — including Blagojevich, who had repeatedly promised to take the stand — in hopes of convincing jurors that the prosecution had not proved its case.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was in the main courtroom for the first time since the trial began. He sat at the end of a spectator's bench near a wall on the opposite side of the room from Blagojevich, his hands folded across court documents. He looked on blank-faced as the verdict was read. His team of young prosecutors reflected the same mood, also looking on impassively.
During the trial, prosecutors relied heavily on the FBI wiretaps, in which Blagojevich spewed profanity, speculated about getting a Cabinet job in exchange for the Senate appointment. Several witnesses also testified that they felt pressured to donate money to Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for favorable state action.
Blagojevich's trial was another chapter in Illinois' history of crooked politics. His predecessor, George Ryan, was convicted of racketeering in 2006 and is serving a 6½-year sentence.