It doesn't matter that Robert Blagojevich wasn't involved in his brother's politics until four months before the former governor's arrest, prosecutors say. He still belongs at the same trial.
In a filing today, prosecutors said "there is virtually no evidence that is not relevant to both Rod Blagojevich and Robert Blagojevich," and urged the judge in the case not to give Robert Blagojevich a separate trial.
The prosecution filed a number of requests with the judge today, including one that attempts to limit the arguments the defense can make in front of the jury.
Prosecutors asked that the defense be barred from discussing the suicide of Blagojevich's onetime fund-raiser Christopher Kelly.
"Public comments made by defendant Rod
Blagojevich and his counsel at the time of Mr. Kelly's death indicate that
defendants may attempt to insert Mr. Kelly's death or suicide into the case
through evidence or argument," prosecutors wrote.
Kelly had been charged three times by federal prosecutors and had been pressured to testify in the ex-governor's case. He died of a drug overdose in September, just days after pleading guilty to a fraud scheme involving O'Hare airport.
And, while Rod Blagojevich on his radio show may spew tales of misdeeds by other politicians, he can't do that at trial. The defense can't ask jurors to acquit the former governor because it was just "politics as usual," prosecutors argued.
"No one is on trial in this case other than the defendants, and the jury
should not be presented with evidence and counter-evidence as to whether other
individuals committed similar acts," prosecutors wrote.
They also said the former governor can't tell jurors it was a selective prosecution (they can argue that to a judge, not a jury) and can't try playing on jurors' sympathies by discussing what a conviction would do to the former governor's family.
In the Robert Blagojevich matter, prosecutors were responding to a request by Robert Blagojevich to be tried separately from the former governor.
"The conspiracy ran for approximately 84 months, the last four months of which
Robert Blagojevich was allegedly associated," Robert Blagojevich's lawyer, Michael Ettinger, wrote last week. "Robert Blagojevich's alleged involvement translates into approximately 5% of the 84-month conspiracy."
But prosecutors say that's an "over simplistic" view.
"It focuses only on the time frame of the events, as opposed to considering the actual evidence and alleged crimes in the case," they said in today's filing.
Robert Blagojevich, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., agreed to become fund-raising chair for Friends of Blagojevich, in August of 2008.
By December, his brother was arrested. He has denied wrongdoing and has said federal authorities unfairly lumped him together with his brother.
Prosecutors: Blagojevich brothers belong at the same trial
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