Prosecutors Move To Drop Some Charges vs. Blagojevich

UPDATED 02/23/11 2:22 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Federal prosecutors are moving for the dismissal of some charges against deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys for Blagojevich appeared in court Wednesday. Blagojevich’s attorneys are also seeking to get several charges dropped.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports

At the status hearing, prosecutors told U.S. District Judge James Zagel they wanted to dismiss three racketeering and wire fraud charges because the allegations involved in those counts are duplicated in other charges.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, the move is an attempt to simplify the government’s case after jurors in Blagojevich’s first trial said the two dozen counts were confusing.

The charges prosecutors are moving to dismiss are count one, two and four in the original indictment — racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud.

The surprise motion to dismiss the three charges came in the final minutes of a 45-minute status hearing.

“It will make it a little less complicated,” prosecutor Reid Schar told the judge about a scaled down indictment.

The racketeering charge epitomized what could be, for a non-lawyer, mind-numbing legal complexities — with its more than 20 sub-points and multiple acts jurors had to consider before rendering a verdict.

In his brief statement, Schar also said some of the charges were redundant. That could mean many of the illegal acts cited under the racketeering count could arise in any remaining charges, which include several wire fraud counts, bribery and attempted extortion.

After the initial trial that ended largely deadlocked last summer, some jurors complained about the complexity of the indictment against Blagojevich.

Defense attorneys heralded the moves by prosecutors.

“I think it shows that they think Blagojevich is innocent of those charges. Or why would they dismiss them?” Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky said.

Zagel did not immediately rule on the motion.

The status hearing came two months before the ex-governor’s retrial is set to start.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Blagojevich’s defense team asked Zagel to dismiss 11 of the 23 corruption counts he is facing when he is tried for a second time in April.

The counts defense attorneys want tossed out are tied to the so-called “honest services” statute that the Supreme Court ruled on last summer. Justices ruled that, if there’s no bribe or kickback, “honest services fraud” is too vague to be a crime.

Blagojevich’s attorneys also tried to have the 11 counts tied to “honest services” thrown out at the start of his trial last summer, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, but Zagel rejected the request.

Among the charges against Blagojevich is that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

The defense has filed five motions leading up to the hearing.

One asks Zagel to bar prosecutors from playing any FBI wiretap recordings to jurors on the grounds that evidence at the heart of the government’s case is unreliable.

But another asks Zagel to lift a seal on those tapes. Blagojevich doesn’t want jurors to hear them but still wants the right to release them publicly.

Blagojevich’s first trial ended last summer with jurors deadlocked on all but one of 24 counts against him. Blagojevich was convicted of lying to the FBI and prosecutors are pressing on with 23 other counts against him.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • steven

    what jail should he go to?

  • FR

    Blagojevich was a good governor who held the line on taxes. Who cares if he day dreamed out loud about getting a little extra for himself. He saved the people $$$$.

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  • Herb

    He was already found innocent by the first jury. The state spent millions of dollars prosecuting this case the first time, now they are going to do this again. This time it will cost more, because, if he is convicted. it will be appealed.

    The state has severe money problems. How about the prosecutor spending this money on prosecuting Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) for mortgage fraud, and help people avoid foreclosure, which will raise ptoperty values.

    • Brian

      He wasn’t found innocent, there was one solitary juror who just didn’t get it.If you followed the story and listened to some of the taped statements you would realize that that one solitary juror is the one to blame for the cost to retry him.This guy is so obviously guilty.

  • Peter Mone

    He was not prosecuted by the Stae of Illinois as it was a federal prosecution by the US Attorney for Illinois. Rather than being found innocent he was convicted of lying to FBI agents, a felony conviction which could put him in jail for 5 years. He deserves it.

  • Rod B

    Corruption is like snow here get use to it! Move on to something else in the news

  • southside

    Enjoy prison, Rod!

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