Prosecutors to revise charges against Rod Blagojevich

Federal prosecutors may reindict former Gov.

Rod Blagojevich to help avoid problems with a possible U.S. Supreme Court decision, prosecutors said in a court filing today.

The high court is looking at three cases dealing with the honest services statute — something Blagojevich is now accused of violating. Blagojevich’s defense team had asked for a trial delay to see how a Supreme Court’s ruling may affect his case.

Federal prosecutors plan to revise the charges against former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich next month to avoid possible delays in their case because of a looming Supreme Court decision on a well-used public corruption law, the U.S. attorney's office said Monday.

The high court is expected to hear oral arguments today on limiting the "honest services" fraud law, which criminalizes "a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."

The law has been a mainstay of federal public corruption cases, and prosecutors are relying on it for several of the charges against Blagojevich, accusing him of illegally leveraging his position to benefit himself.

In a court filing Monday, prosecutors said they would bring a revised indictment against Blagojevich to avoid any potential delay of his scheduled June trial. Prosecutors said they would handle the honest services question in the new filing but plan to stick with the same basic allegations.

Among the charges is that the former governor tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

"At this time, it is anticipated that any new charges would be based on the underlying conduct that currently encompasses the pending charges," Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid J. Schar wrote in the court filing.

Prosecutors indicated Monday they could seek a new indictment against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to avoid issues with the current charges against him.

Those issues, which are the subject of an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court, threaten to potentially delay Blagojevich's June trial date, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The federal prosecutors said in a filing they would deal with the "honest services" fraud statute question that prompted the appeal in the new charges, the newspaper said.

Prosecutors say an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court battle over the type of charges used in the indictment against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich shouldn't delay his trial's scheduled June 3 start date.

The controversial law barring officials from depriving government of their honest services is a key part of the Blagojevich indictment.

But even if the court finds the law unconstitutional, federal prosecutors say it shouldn't delay the trial. They did, however, say some charges might have to be dropped.

They also say they probably will obtain a fresh indictment against Blagojevich in late January, but it won't contain new allegations of misconduct.