Juror: Blagojevich 'lucky' he wasn't convicted on more counts
BY NATASHA KORECKI, MARK J. KONKOL, DAVE McKINNEY AND KIM JANSSEN Staff Reporter
Juror John Grover, a military veteran, said he believed that Rod Blagojevich was guilty of trying to sell President Barack Obamas former U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Jurors in the trial of the former governor overwhelmingly wanted to send Robert Blagojevich home a free man, voting nine to three in favor of acquittal, said one juror in the case. But the former governor "was lucky" that he wasn't convicted on more counts, the juror said.
John Grover of Joliet described a frustrated jury that couldn't convince a holdout juror to convict the former governor on the Senate seat charge. Grover said he would have convicted him and pointed to various evidence, from tape recordings to lavish expenditures. Grover tallied the amount Blagojevich spent on fancy ties: $60,000, he said.
"How do you do that- " he said.
At one point, Grover said he grew angry with the former governor's statements on secret FBI recordings played at trial.
Grover said when he heard the tape of Blagojevich dropping f-bombs with regard to President Obama, he wanted to climb out of the jury box and head straight for the former governor.
"Telling the president to go f' himself. Where I come from that doesn't happen," Grover said.
Juror Ralph Schindler, of Arlington Heights, said he also found all the crimes charged against Blagojevich "distasteful."
"That is not the way a public official should operate. I can't isolate one as being the crime of the century to me. But I think the most egregious was the Senate seat," Schindler said. "I think he was looking for personal gain through the appointment."
When it came to the former governor's brother, though, jurors sang a different tune.
"I didn't get my wish for him . . . to go home with his wife," Grover said. "The whole time we spent on Rod, in the background we talked about Robert. And I had a feeling that nobody wanted to send him to jail. There really wasn't a lot there."
Grover said prosecutors shouldn't put Robert Blagojevich through another trial.
"My personal opinion, I wouldn't [retry Robert]. I don't see the stuff that I saw on his brother. Robert was never really in the picture. . . . I think he was honestly trying to do a good job."
Nine jurors voted in favor of acquittal on the four counts involving Robert Blagojevich and three voted to convict, Grover said.
"I'm further resolved to hear it was a 9 to 3 result in my favor," Robert Blagojevich said today. "I'm an innocent man. I've done nothing wrong. The majority of the jury thought that was the case."
Robert Blagojevich, a military veteran who lives in Nashville, Tenn., was charged in four counts in the indictment. He became the head of Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund four months before Rod Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges. Robert Blagojevich testified in his own defense.
Grover, a military veteran, said he believed that Rod Blagojevich was guilty, that he tried selling the Senate seat to the highest bidder. He said that Rod Blagojevich got lucky with a holdout juror who frustrated him because she wouldn't budge.
"[Her thinking] didn't make much sense to me. And there really wasn't much reasoning either. We would read a paragraph and would understand it one way. And she wouldn't.
"It got to a point where we were beating a dead horse. At least three full days on the Senate seat. Once we got to 11-1 vote we spent three days trying to address her concerns."
Juror Cynthia Parker, 60, of Gurnee, said she was one of the 11 jurors who voted to convict Blagojevich on that count.
"That was the strongest count,'' she said.
She was unimpressed that Blagojevich brought his children to court toward the end of the trial, describing it as "a show'' and adding, "I wouldn't want my child to be exposed to that. . . . The whole world is going after the father.''
She described defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. as "a showman'' but said his theatrical style was not to her taste and that she wouldn't hire him if she was in trouble with the law.
Grover said Rod Blagojevich could be headed for a different outcome if he's tried again.
"If they do retry him, he might be in trouble," Grover said. "He was lucky."