It was so expected that the central character wasn't even around town, choosing instead to take his kids to Disney World. But former Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has finally seen the other legal shoe drop, with a 16-count federal indictment against him, his brother Rob (who served as the chairman of his brother's campaign committee); his former Chief of Staff John Harris; a previous Blago Chief of Staff, Lon Monk; his chief fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly and Springfield powerbroker William F. Cellini.
But at least Blago can breath a small sigh of relief. The sweeping indictment did not include charges against his wife Patti, as had been speculated in some circles.
More after the fold.
Federal prosecutors were facing a Tuesday deadline for issuing an indictment against the former governor and Harris, both of whom were arrested on the morning of December 9. With today being the last day the Grand Jury hearing the case would be meeting before the Tuesday deadline, everyone was prepared for the announcement.
The only question was who else would be indicted. The key person there is undoubtedly Cellini, a long-time power playerin state government. While officially a Republican, Cellini has maintained close ties to the powers-that-be in Springfield for decades. His indictment is seen by many as an effort by federal prosecutors to have Cellini turn on his longtime allies in what is known as the Combine. Additional indictments may well be forthcoming, with the potential impact on future campaigns certain to be significant.
It is likely that at least one of Blago's co-defendants will cooperate with prosecutors, perhaps more than one. If Cellini cops a plea, as many Republican political leaders as Democrats will be in a world of trouble.
As for Blagojevich, who was impeached and convicted by the Illinois General Assembly and removed from office in late January, he has maintained his innocence, even as he pursues what must be considered a bizarre defense, going on talk show after talk show. All that seems certain is that the strange saga of Rod Blagojevich has many more strange turns to come.