Judge Announces that Rod Blagojevich Re-Trial to Begin in January 2011

A second trial for Rod R. Blagojevich, the ousted governor of Illinois, is expected to start in January, but he will no longer be tried alongside his older brother.

Prosecutors dropped charges against his brother, Robert Blagojevich, on Thursday because, they said, he had less of a role in the federal corruption case. Robert Blagojevich, a Tennessee businessman who moved to Chicago in 2008 to handle fundraising for his brother, had been charged with four criminal counts, including attempted extortion and bribery conspiracy.

Brace yourself, readers, but this may be a Rod Blagojevich-free zone for some time.

Chicago federal judge James Zagel today ruled that the retrial of Blagojevich will begin early next year.

But there will be one less Blagojevich at trial as prosecutors announced today that they are dismissing all corruption charges against Robert Blagojevich, Rod’s brother.

Robert had been accused of plotting with his brother to sell or trade an appointment to President Obama’s old Senate seat and to squeeze people for campaign donations.

Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor whose criminal corruption trial ended with his conviction on one count and a hung jury on 23 others, may face a retrial in January.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel in Chicago said in court today that he hopes a retrial will begin the first week of January. The hearing was the first after the twice-elected Democrat was found guilty Aug. 17 of lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about his knowledge of fundraising done by his campaign committee.