Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday on one count of “structuring” bank withdrawals to which he had pleaded guilty last year. But of course it wasn’t at all about a financial technicality. Hastert was confronted in the courtroom with testimony from one of his victims, and from the sister of another victim now deceased. The hearing lasted about two hours, with Judge Thomas M. Durkin taking the last forty-five minutes to explain his sentence of fifteen months, far more than prosecutors recommended.
Hastert, who sat in a wheelchair through most of the hearing, was helped to a walker and apologized from the podium. “The thing I want to do today is say I’m sorry to those I hurt and misled,” he said, “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach. What I did was wrong and I regret it.”
Judge Durkin then asked Hastert if he had in fact sexually abused his victims. After some hesitation Hastert answered, “Yes” to sexually abusing victim B. For two other victims he said he couldn’t remember, and that it was “a different situation,” but didn’t dispute the accusations.
“The defendant is a serial child molester,” said Judge Durkin. “Some actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works. Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.”
Jurors in the Rod Blagojevich trial were able to reach a verdict on only one count : lying to an FBI agent. A mistrial will be declared on the remaining 23 counts.
Prosecutors immediately announced their intention to pursue the case, and a hearing is set for next week to consider a date for a new trial.
Pictured are Rod and Patti Blagojevich as the verdict was announced in court. Patti’s brother, Dick Mel has his arm around her shoulder.
Sun-Times story here.
Pictured are Rod Blagojevich and one of his lawyers, Sheldon Sorosky, waiting for Judge Zagel to take the bench and reveal the latest communication from the jury.
The jurors note only led to more confusion and speculation about how much progress they have made toward reaching a verdict. One reporter described it as riding a roller-coaster blind.
Shown above are Rod, his brother-in-law Dick Mel and his wife Patti discussing the note with a member of the defense team.
BlagoBlog has the story.
Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti made their first appearance at the courthouse since jury instructions July 28. The are shown here as the arrive on the 25th floor and headed to the courtroom.
AP story here.
A few doodles to pass the time while waiting for a verdict.
Update: The jury has a question!
Andrew Cohen on The Verdict Watch
Day nine of Blagojevich jury deliberations and not so much as a note from the jurors since July 29th.
The only news to report is that NBC’s Channel 5 has scored victories at Scrabble and 80’s Trivia.
A good story on what jurors in former Illinois Gov. George Ryan’s trial experienced can be found here.
The jury, still including the alternates, is instructed by Judge Zagel. On the right is one of the government’s evidence carts that will go into the jury room.
Tribune story here
That is how Judge Zagel described the rambling, theatrical performance of Rod Blagojevich’s lead attorney, Sam Adam, Jr., as he tried to refute the government’s case against his client.
Tomorrow, after instructions by the judge, the jury will begin deliberations. And we will wait.
NYT story here.
After a long day of closing arguments by the government that started with Asst. US Attorney Chris Niewoehner citing the famous “I’ve got this thing and it’s F***n golden” quote,
and where the only new news was that the Blagojevichs had brought their two young daughters to court, all hell came near to breaking loose at the end.
When Judge Zagel told Rod Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sam Adam Jr, that he wouldn’t be allowed to argue that the government didn’t call some witnesses because their testimony would have been helpful to the defense, Adam said that, with all due respect he wouldn’t follow the judge’s order. Zagel threatened contempt, and Adam shot back “I’m willing to go to jail for this, your honor. I cannot follow your order on this.”
It is now unclear whether Sam Adam Jr will be making the closing argument tomorrow for the former governor.
Chicago Tribune Blog here.
After months of proclaiming his eagerness to take the witness stand and tell his side of the story to the jurors Rod Blagojevich was silent as one of his lawyers, Sheldon Sorosky, stood up and told Judge Zagel “the defense rests”.
Always upbeat, Blagojevich was signing autographs for spectators in the courtroom during a short break.
Sun-Times story here.