State governor seized in US probe

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested by federal agents, following a corruption probe.

He has been charged with conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a US senator.

As governor, Mr Blagojevich is responsible for selecting someone to take up Barack Obama’s now vacant Illinois senate seat.

He has also been charged with illegally threatening to block state aid to the company that owns the Chicago Tribune.

Mr Blagojevich allegedly demanded that the company fire members of the newspaper’s editorial board in return for financial assistance in the sale of Wrigley Field, a Chicago sports stadium.

The governor’s chief of staff, John Harris, has also been arrested.

‘Staggering’

The FBI has released a 76-page affidavit detailing the charges against Mr Blagojevich, which includes transcripts of his telephone conversations intercepted by court-authorised wiretaps over the the last month.

In the conversations, Mr Blagojevich discussed offering Mr Obama’s senate seat in return for getting a well-paid position at a non-profit organisation or a group affiliated with trades unions, according to the affidavit.

He also allegedly talked about getting his wife Patti placed on a corporate board.

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States senator,” he added.

Mr Fitzgerald has been involved in a number of high-profile prosecutions in recent years.

He led the case against the former vice-presidential chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, as well as heading up the investigation into media tycoon Conrad Black.

The prosecutor was also involved in the corruption trial of Mr Blagojevich’s predecessor as Illinois governor, George Ryan.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7773717.stm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s