Rod Blagojevich's brother, Robert, seeks separate trial

He wants to clear his name and get this over with as soon as possible.”

— Michael Ettinger, Robert Blagojevich's attorney

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, indicted with five others on sweeping corruption charges in April, could be going to trial next year by himself.

An attorney for Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, said Monday that he would seek a separate trial, citing the prejudice his client could face by sitting next to such a controversial figure.

The announcement came on the same day that U.S. District Judge James Zagel allowed Springfield power broker William Cellini to be tried separately from the former governor.

Another co-defendant in the case, Christopher Kelly, committed suicide in September. And the three others – two of Blagojevich’s former chiefs of staff who pleaded guilty as well as insider Antoin “Tony” Rezko – are expected to be key prosecution witnesses against the former governor.

The Blagojevich brothers haven’t exactly been in lockstep lately.

On Monday, Rob Blagojevich’s lawyer, Michael Ettinger, said his client doesn’t want to be tried with the "Celebrity Apprentice" star.
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Rob Blagojevich is seeking to be tried separately from his brother, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
(John H. White/Sun-Times)

And while ex-governor Rod Blagojevich was pushing for a delay in his trial date, from June to September, Rob Blagojevich wants to be tried as soon as possible, Ettinger said. "He wants to clear his name and get this over with as soon as possible," Ettinger said.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel declined to move the trial Monday.

It looks like the impeached former governor of Illinois is likely to be all alone when his federal corruption case goes to trial next year.

Although there were six defendants in the case when the charges were announced earlier this year, Rod Blagojevich's brother, Rob, is the only remaining co-defendant whose trial hasn't been severed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

And Rob Blagojevich doesn't want to be tried with his brother, either, says his lawyer, Michael Ettinger. He plans to move for a separate trial, citing potential prejudice after U.S. District Judge James Zagel's recent agreement to sever the trial of businessman William Cellini.

As discussed in an earlier Sun-Times article, Cellini contended from the start that his case, which concerns an alleged shakedown of a movie producer trying to do business with the state, had nothing to do with the charges against the ex-governor.