No tapes, no Blagojevich conviction?

June 28, 2011

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(WBEZ/Bill Healy)
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives at court Monday.

Tapes sealed the deal for jurors who convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 17 counts Monday.  The investigation into the Blagojevich administration goes back years, but there may not have been a conviction if not for the phone calls he had over a few weeks in the fall of 2008. 

Jurors say those calls were very convincing.  "There was just several instances and several calls where he asked for different positions for the Senate seat," said one juror who is still anonymous because the court was not immediately releasing jurors' names.

Robert Grant, the head of the Chicago office of the FBI, says the tapes were important in this case.  "A famous artist once said that Lady Justice is blind but she has very sophisticated listening devices... In all my years of experience there is no better evidence you can present to a jury than a defendant's own words and in their own voice," said Grant.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says Blagojevich got a fair trial.  "The government put forth its version, he put forth the defendant's version, in the most direct way possible, he took the stand, and the jury decided," said Fitzgerald.

Experts estimate Blagojevich is facing around 10 years in prison.