CHICAGO - Rod Blagojevich is an honest man who "didn't take a dime" but had the bad judgment to trust the wrong people, the former Illinois governor's attorney said yesterday at Blagojevich's corruption trial.
Blagojevich will also take the stand on his own behalf, not just let a lawyer speak for him, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. said in his opening statements.
"The guy ain't corrupt," Adam said, after slamming his hand down. He said the ousted governor's wife, Patti, will take the stand as well.
Adam said Blagojevich was fooled by those close to him.
Now-convicted influence peddler Antoin "Tony" Rezko helped raise money for lots of political candidates, including Blagojevich, Adam said. But he told jurors that "not a single penny" of ill-gotten money went into Blagojevich's campaign fund or his own pockets.
"You have to be comatose not to figure out how to get a dollar out of $52 billion," Adam said, referring to the state budget. "But who didn't? Him!" he said indicating his client.
Adam said Blagojevich thought Rezko knew campaign laws because he was so good at raising money. Rezko has since been convicted of skimming campaign contributions and seeking personal kickbacks from companies.
Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to trying to sell or trade President Obama's former Senate seat. He also denies that he plotted to turn his power as governor into a moneymaking scheme.
A federal prosecutor told jurors earlier that Blagojevich had sought to use his power as governor to get benefits for himself and his inner circle through "a series of illegal shakedowns." And when Obama was elected - meaning the governor could appoint his successor to the Senate - Blagojevich's "golden ticket arrived," prosecutor Carrie E. Hamilton said.