The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois next month plans to bring a revised indictment against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), The Chicago Tribune reports. Blagojevich was arrested exactly one year ago on federal corruption charges that involved conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.
The revised indictment is part of federal prosecutors’ efforts to avoid possible delays that may result from the ruling in an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case, according to the U.S Attorney’s office in Chicago, The Tribune reports. The case, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments this morning, involves limitations on “honest services” fraud law.
According to The Christian Science Monitor, the law, which makes it a crime “to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services,” is a “powerful weapon in the arsenal of prosecutors seeking to root out all forms of public and private corruption. But the statute, critics say, fails to give fair warning of precisely which conduct violates the law.”
The Tribune reports that prosecutors, led by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, “are relying on [the law]” for a number of the corruption charges against the former governor.
The revised indictment will separate out Blagojevich’s charges in order to allow the June trial to start on time, regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court case, the newspaper reports. The issue of honest services fraud law as it relates to the former governor will be dealt with in a new filing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, The Tribune reports.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar wrote in the court filing, “At this time, it is anticipated that any new charges would be based on the underlying conduct that currently encompasses the pending charges.”
Blagojevich’s attorney, Sam Adam Jr., denounced the U.S. Attorney’s office decision. “It seems to me they ripped a sitting governor out of his home and said he had conducted a crime spree that they had to stop, and now they’re saying there isn’t going to be any ‘honest services’ and they’re going to charge him with something different,” Adam told The Tribune. “I haven’t seen this much backpedaling since Gerald Wilkins got dunked on by Michael Jordan. Now we have to wait until January to find out what he really did?”