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Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich found guilty on 17 of 20 counts

by Adam Russett on June 28, 2011

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts on Monday, including those alleging he attempted to sell the vacated Senate seat of President Barack Obama. CBS affiliate WBBM reports that the embattled politician may spend up to 10 years behind bars for the litany of crimes.

The conviction marks a turn in events from last summer, when federal prosecutors were only able to find Blagojevich guilty on 1 of 24 counts. However, they quickly asked for a retrial, which apparently vindicated the accusations levied in 2008. Blagojevich, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence all while making a media tour, including a stint on the Celebrity Apprentice, said that he was "disappointed" and "stunned."

The change in outcome likely stems from the fact that the prosecution simplified their case from last summer. Gone were a pair of racketeering charges and instead they focused more on Blagojevich's lack of credibility, including his previous conviction for lying to the FBI, which many jurors said factored into their decision despite his likable personality.

Some of the jurors that spoke with reporters say that they hope the conviction will make Illinois politicians, notorious for corruption, think twice before becoming involved in shady dealings.

"We know that there's a lot of bargaining that goes on behind the scenes – we do that in our everyday lives and business and everything. But I think in this instance, when it is someone representing the people, it crosses the line, and I think we sent a pretty clear message on that," the jury foreman told the news source.

Blagojevich's predecessor George Ryan was also convicted of federal crimes including racketeering, bribery and extortion. In 2006, he was found guilty of all charges and is currently serving six and a half years in prison. 

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