A federal jury in Chicago convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of one count of lying to the FBI but deadlocked on 23 corruption counts Tuesday, a setback for prosecutors who spent years pursuing the voluble and theatrical Democrat.

Prosecutors immediately vowed to retry Blagojevich after the judge declared a mistrial on charges that he schemed to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat and shook down businessmen for campaign cash in return for state business.

The former congressman and two-term governor faces up to five years in prison after jurors found that he lied to federal agents when he said he did not track campaign contributions and kept a “firewall” between political campaigns and government work.

The 12 jurors reached their decision after 14 days of deliberations, first signaling to the judge last week that they were stalemated. The jury also deadlocked on four felony counts against Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, who was accused of joining the plot to trade a Senate appointment for campaign money. He will also be retried.

A juror told The Associated Press that the panel deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction on charges involving the Senate seat.

Juror Erik Sarnello of Itasca, Ill., said one woman on the jury “just didn’t see what we all saw.” The 21-year-old Sarnello said the counts involving the Senate seat were “the most obvious.”

The partial verdict culminated an 18-month legal and political saga that frequently bore elements of the absurd. Blagojevich proclaimed his innocence as the trial approached, hosting call-in shows, performing Elvis impersonations for cash and appearing on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” His attorneys presented no witnesses to contest the prosecution’s evidence and hours of secretly recorded audiotapes of Blagojevich ranting at his political enemies.

Observers of the seven-week trial said the former governor, who was impeached by the Illinois Senate last year, might have outfoxed his pursuers.

“All of his antics, all the theatrics, it was intentional. I suspect he made a friend in the jury room,” said longtime Chicago political consultant Don Rose.

But the case had a serious side, with political ramifications from Chicago to Washington. It nearly entangled some senior members of Obama’s inner circle, whom Blagojevich’s legal team had threatened to call as witnesses. And the publicity has hurt Democratic prospects in Obama’s home state in November’s elections.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat who replaced Blagojevich and is seeking a full term, has struggled to emerge from his predecessor’s shadow, and Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias has been attacked by Republicans for his ties to Blagojevich.

In his typically pugnacious style, Blagojevich claimed vindication after the verdict was read to a packed courtroom and vowed to appeal his one conviction.

“This jury shows you that the government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me,” he said. “They could not prove I did anything wrong — except for one nebulous charge from five years ago.”

He added: “I want the people of Illinois to know I did not lie to the FBI.”

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26 to determine how to proceed.


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