From Chicago WGN News, April 14, 2009
“Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty this morning to 16 charges of criminal corruption including racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud.
His brother, Robert, a fundraiser for his campaigns, also pleaded not guilty to similar charges.
The former governor remained free on bond after the 10-minute hearing in which his lawyer Sheldon Sorosky did most of the talking for him.
“Mr. Rod Blagojevich would waive reading of the indictment and enter a plea of not guilty,” the lawyer said. U.S. District Judge James Zagel asked the former governor a series of questions, including one about his schooling.
“Um, I have a degree from law school,” Blagojevich replied.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar told the judge the government will turn over a preliminary amount of discovery material for the trial within two weeks.”It is a large volume of documents, as well as recordings,” Schar said.
Sorosky told Zagel that Blagojevich soon will be making a request to enlarge his bond. After the hearing he said Blagojevich was thinking of taking a trip out of the country, but Sorosky did not disclose a location.
Sorosky also told Zagel that the defense needs access to campaign funds to be able to adequately defend the case by adding extra legal hands. He asked to reappear before Zagel in a week to update that situation.
The defense is in negotiations with the government to get access to Blagojevich campaign funds, which total more than $2 million.”
“Blagojevich was charged with essentially running state government as a criminal enterprise, scheming to use his position to make money for him and a close group of insiders.
Three others charged in the case — Springfield power broker William Cellini, former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris and top Blagojevich fundraiser Christopher Kelly — are set to be arraigned Thursday.
Harris is cooperating with federal authorities, as is another former chief of staff, Lon Monk, who is expected to be arraigned April 24.”