Lawyers for former Gov. Blagojevich and his brother are asking a federal judge to lift a restraining order that's been put on a $2.3 million campaign fund to help pay for legal fees.
Attorney for Robert Blagojevich, Michael Ettinger, said of the $2.3 million in the fund now: "not a dollar represents proceeds of any illegal activity as alleged in the indictment," according to a court filing.
Ettinger has asked that a portion of the funds be released to contribute to his client's legal fees. Robert Blagojevich chaired the fund as of August of last year. Blagojevich's lawyers are expected to file something similar before day's end.
Prosecutors indicated in a filing that $100,000 has been released to ex-Gov. Blagojevich's lawyer Sheldon Sorosky, while Ettinger has gotten $50,000 so far.
The government opposes releasing money from the fund, saying in a government filing today they have to protect their rights to seize the money if there's a conviction.
"FOB was established on behalf of Rod Blagojevich to support his campaign efforts so that he could maintain and influence a racketeering enterprise designed to personally
enrich Rod Blagojevich and his family, and, as part of the enterprise, his interest
in the FOB funds," prosecutors argue. The government proposes letting defense lawyers be paid through taxpayer money but then allow the campaign fund to repay the costs. That would force Blagojevich's attorneys to be paid at public defender rates, which is about $115 or so an hour. In the alternative, they proposed that the money be held in a court-supervised escrow fund.
Judge James Zagel, who oversees the case, has indicated that he will likely release the fund to defense lawyers to pay for legal fees. A formal hearing is set for May 1. Prosecutors oppose the move.
Blago lawyers want campaign fund money
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