WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Prosecutor: "Attempts are Crimes"

Chicago, IL – Prosecutors used closing arguments in the Blagojevich trial to try shooting down key arguments they anticipate from the former Illinois governor's attorneys.

Assistant US Attorney Chris Niewoehner told jurors Monday that Rod Blagojevich knew his alleged actions were illegal because he's a former prosecutor himself and passed ethics tests when he was Illinois governor.

He said Blagojevich might not have made money or gotten a job in exchange for appointing someone to the US Senate seat Barack Obama gave up when he was elected president. But he pointed out "attempts are crimes."

Niewoehner walked jurors through the evidence and the law surrounding extortion, racketeering and bribery.

Next up was Michael Ettinger, an attorney for Robert Blagojevich.

He portrayed his client as an honest, truthful political outsider - a military veteran who was just trying to help his brother.

The jury was sent home for the day late Monday afternoon. Judge James Zagel dismissed the panel after Rod Blagojevich's attorney Sam Adam Jr. complained the judge was gutting his closing arguments.

Adam told Zagel that he intended to tell jurors about all the witnesses prosecutors did not call, even though the judge previously warned him not to do so.

Prosecutors had mentioned some of those witnesses, including convicted fund-raiser Tony Rezko, in their closing argument, and Adam argued the defense should be able to do the same.

Adam indicated he would be willing to go to jail for contempt if the judge didn't change his mind.

Zagel said he is giving Adam the night to rework his closing arguments. He also said Adam could designate another defense attorney to give the closing if he couldn't follow the rules.

Blagojevich and his brother have pleaded not guilty in an alleged scheme to sell Obama's former Senate seat, and plotting to illegally pressure people for campaign contributions.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio and the Illinois Associated Press