*** UPDATE *** So much for that excuse…
Federal officials said later Wednesday that the checks are in the mail.
The clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois told The Associated Press that vouchers from Blagojevich’s attorneys for their work were submitted in mid-February, and Michael Dobbins said the checks were cut Wednesday and were going out in the mail.
He said payments to federal defenders have been complicated by budget disputes on Capitol Hill.
Back to work, gentlemen.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* Consider it highly doubtful that Rod Blagojevich gets what he wants…
Rod Blagojevich wants to cancel his upcoming retrial, asking to be sentenced immediately, however, prosecutors and the judge would have to approve of the request.
That’s a tall order, considering 20 counts remain pending against the former governor, including that he tried selling President Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich narrowly missed conviction on those counts, some of the most significant in the case, in the first trial with jurors voting 11-1 on many of the charges.
Blagojevich’s lawyers filed a five-page motion Wednesday morning asking to proceed to sentencing right away and avoid a retrial that’s set to begin April 20.
“A second prosecution of this case is an irresponsible use of taxpayer funds in light of the current economic crisis and Blagojevich’s imminent sentencing on the conviction from the first trial,” lawyers wrote in the motion. […]
“There’s charges pending, the only way they get out of those charges is if the government drops them,” says Michael Ettinger, a federal defense lawyer who represented Blagojevich’s brother, Robert. Charges against Rob Blagojevich were dropped after the last trial. [Emphasis added.]
He’d be looking at a maximum of five years if he was sentenced on that one charge.
* From Blagojevich’s filing…
At the first trial, defense counsel were funded by the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund – not by taxpayers. The campaign fund was exhausted toward the end of trial and counsel for Blagojevich received only partial compensation (one-fifth of payment) for the last month of trial, July 2010. […]
To date, defense counsel have been working on the Blagojevich case for almost nine months without pay. This has caused a significant hardship and has deprived Blagojevich of his right to effective assistance of counsel as required by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.
The financial hardship this has caused defense counsel has created a vast inequity in this case between the government and the defense. […]
As such, preparation for retrial is not complete and will not be complete by April 20, 2011.
* Several legal analysts were quoted this morning. Let’s start with Fox Chicago…
FOX Chicago News Legal Analyst Larry Yellen said he didn’t expect the judge to grant the motion. Judge James Zagel throughout the case has kept the trial mostly on schedule and has denied previous, similar motions. Yellen said it may be a publicity ploy, or the lawyers could simply be trying to get paid.
Legal analyst Karen Conti also said she didn’t expect the motion to go anywhere, but it did seem to be an appeal to the public.
“This is about money, except the government is supposed to be footing the bill for this trial. There’s a couple possibilities here. It could be a legitimate request. From Blagojevich’s attorneys’ view, ‘we do not look good in a retrial and if you are convicted you face many many years in prison.’” [said WGN-TV political analyst Paul Lisnek.]
Lisnek noted that the government generally wins in the retrial of similar cases and said Blagojevich may fare better facing sentencing on the earlier conviction.
WGN-TV legal analyst Terry Sullivan agreed that Blagojevich’s money problems could be behind the lastest request.
“He hasn’t been able to rent office space, hasn’t been able to hire investigators–all the things that were pretty much stripped from him for the preparation for a second trial because of the fact that he’s now working off public funds,” he said.
* Meanwhile, a guy who cooperated with the feds for years on the Tony Rezko matter just pled guilty to two criminal counts that had expired under the statute of limitations…
A onetime Tony Rezko business partner, who once was a Chicago cop and chief executive of a company that won a $50 million security contract in Iraq, has pleaded guilty to federal charges in Chicago after he cooperated with authorities. […]
[Daniel T. Frawley] admitted to obtaining a fraudulent $4.5 million loan from First Bank in Missouri and making false representations to the bank in 1999 and 2000.
Frawley also admits to structuring a series of withdrawals from another bank, taking out a total of $87,000 at less than $10,000 each time. He said he did it to avoid disclosure requirements, which kick in at $10,000.
The conduct charged is beyond the statute of limitations and his plea deal indicates Frawley agreed to waive the statute as part of a deal. Frawley could have faced more than five years but prosecutors will recommend 18 months, according to his deal. Frawley’s lawyers can ask for less time as part of the agreement.
That’s some pretty serious stuff to waive a statute and agree to plead guilty. But the feds are just relentless, which is why nobody figures they’ll let Blagojevich have his way and be sentenced immediately.
* The state also just wrapped up a case against one of Chris Kelly’s pals…
A major contractor for the city of Chicago was spared extra time behind bars Tuesday when he was sentenced to two years of probation for failing to give minority subcontractors their share of business on two projects.
Robert Blum, 58, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud Tuesday.
In the plea agreement, Cook County Judge Kevin Sheehan ordered Blum to pay a 20,000 fine. Blum’s Castle Construction Corp. also must pay a $20,000 fine.
Blum is scheduled to surrender to federal officials March 23 to begin serving a two-year sentence for his August conviction for filing false income tax returns. Blum was also ordered to pay $2.1 million in restitution after he admitted that he spent $1.3 million in company money on his palatial home in New Lenox, according to the IRS.
Federal records show Blum had sought a break on his tax-evasion sentence by asking U.S. District Judge James Zagel to consider his cooperation with federal authorities investigating Kelly.
But federal prosecutors objected, saying in a filing in December that “the government had concerns regarding (Blum’s) truthfulness and his value as a potential witness” and “had concluded not to call him as a witness in any trial against Mr. Kelly.”
According to state investigators, Castle was awarded a $9.8 million contract in 2006 to build several bus- and train-washing facilities for the Chicago Transit Authority. Blum told the agency he had subcontracted $2.96 million of work to minority-owned Mid-City, but the subcontract with that firm was actually only $550,000.
In 2007, Castle won a $9 million contract with the Chicago Public Building Commission to build a new fire station in the Edgewater neighborhood, investigators said. Blum told the commission that a minority-owned business would perform about one-fourth of the work, but Castle instead hired a non-minority firm.
* Blagojevich and the Complexity of Jury Instructions: Jury instructions have clearly become so burdensome and so complex that juries like the Blagojevich jury can hardly be expected to weed through them and appreciate their detail. With lives literally at stake, what options do federal judges have to “dumb down” what in many districts are mandatory jury instructions? And how much can one really do to reduce “legalese” in jury instructions that must be precise and hew to the language of the statute and of previously used instructions if they are to stand up on appeal?
* Burr Ridge Mansion of Former Blago Fundraiser Sold at Foreclosure - The mansion owned by Christopher Kelly went for $1.6 million at foreclosure sale.
* Fired IDOT workers settle lawsuit - Sixteen employees were found to have been let go for political reasons