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Blagojevich trial restarts in graft case

The first trial of Rod Blagojevich ended with a hung jury. The first trial of Rod Blagojevich ended with a hung jury.
Associated Press / May 3, 2011

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CHICAGO — A rematch that pits the US government against the ousted Illinois governor began in earnest as the courtroom adversaries delivered their opening statements to jurors yesterday, eight months after Rod Blagojevich’s first corruption trial ended with a hung jury.

Before opening arguments began, attorneys and a judge made the final selection of the 12 jurors and six alternates.

Prosecutors have portrayed the twice-elected governor as steeped in corruption and driven by greed. Defense attorneys concede that Blagojevich could be crude and profane, but have insisted that he never crossed the line into criminality.

The first trial last summer ended with jurors deadlocked on all but one count. This time, Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges, from attempted extortion of a children’s hospital executive to conspiracy to commit bribery in a bid to sell or trade an appointment to President Obama’s vacated US Senate seat for campaign cash or a well-paying job.

Yesterday’s opening was the prosecutors’ first chance to roll out their more focused case. They dropped complex racketeering charges against Blagojevich and dropped all charges against his codefendant at the first trial, his brother, Robert.

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