CHICAGO — Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is set to go back on trial in early January, but he will stand alone as a defendant this time after prosecutors dismissed all corruption charges against his brother yesterday.
US District Court Judge James Zagel said Blagojevich’s retrial will start the week of Jan. 4. Jurors deadlocked last week on all but one of 23 charges against the former governor and on four charges against his brother.
The lawyer for Robert Blagojevich delivered the dismissal news to his client in a brief phone call moments after the hearing. The attorney, Michael Ettinger, told the Nashville businessman, “You’re free.’’ He said Robert Blagojevich responded, “Oh my God, you’re kidding!’’
Prosecutors said their decision was based on Robert Blagojevich’s less central role in alleged schemes to sell or trade an appointment to President Obama’s Senate seat and to pressure people for campaign donations.
Some jurors said the panel was close to acquitting Robert. A few said they did not want to see him retried.
The brothers have denied any wrongdoing.
Ettinger said Robert Blagojevich does not intend to testify against his brother. He said he would obey any subpoena, but he could invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination.
Robert Blagojevich worked as his brother’s campaign manager for only four months in 2008. The Republican had been a successful banker and retired Army officer living in Nashville with his wife, but said he went to work for the Democratic governor out of a sense of brotherly love.
Testifying at the trial, he denied allegations that he helped his brother scheme to benefit from his public office. Another witness, pointing out Robert’s relative lack of importance in the campaign, said his desk was the corner of a conference table and faced a sink.