Blago Doesn't Testify as Defense Rests

Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010 12:54 PM

 

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CHICAGO – Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will not mount a defense in his corruption case, despite his repeated vows that he would testify to assert his innocence, his lawyer said in court on Wednesday.

"At this time, defendant Rod Blagojevich rests" and will not call any witnesses, attorney Sheldon Sorosky told Judge James Zagel in U.S. District Court.

The prosecution put on a single rebuttal witness and also rested its case on Wednesday after six weeks of testimony. The case will go to the jury next week, Zagel said.

Blagojevich, 53, is being tried on 24 counts of fraud, racketeering, attempted extortion, bribery conspiracy and lying to investigators. Among the charges are allegations Blagojevich tried to sell or barter the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama.

The defense had hinted it would seek the testimony of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a former Illinois congressman, among other political figures.

Since his December 2008 arrest, Blagojevich has promised repeatedly to testify in the case, which is based on hours of audiotapes of profanity-laced conversations between Blagojevich and his aides, a few of whom have testified against him.

After the jury had left the courtroom, the judge asked Blagojevich whether the decision not to testify was his.

"It is," a confident-sounding Blagojevich said. "Under the advice of my attorneys, I have made this decision fully and voluntarily."

A two-term Democrat, Blagojevich was impeached and ousted from office by the Illinois legislature in January 2009.

The jury was told in opening arguments that Blagojevich would testify. But his lawyers, led by a father and son team, debated the merits of putting Blagojevich on the stand to face an expected tough cross-examination from federal prosecutors.

They told reporters on Tuesday evening that there was no need to mount a defense because they said prosecutors had failed to make their case that Blagojevich had bargained the powers of his office for personal gain.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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