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Ex-Illinois governor set to face trial again on corruption charges

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Opening arguments are Monday in the corruption trial of Rod Blagojevich, a judge says
  • The ex-governor, accused of trying to sell off Obama's Senate seat, faces 17 charges
  • Last August, a jury couldn't agree on 23 of 24 charges then filed against Blagojevich
  • The governor remained in the spotlight, including appearing on reality TV

(CNN) -- About eight months after a jury failed to come to an agreement on all but one of 24 charges levied against Rod Blagojevich, another such panel will convene starting Monday to consider the fate of the former Illinois governor turned reality TV star.

U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel said Thursday that a jury should be seated and ready for Blagojevich's second trial on May 2, Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Illinois, said Friday.

Also on Monday, both sides should present their opening arguments, and federal prosecutors will begin calling on people to testify, said Samborn. The witnesses will include Daniel Cain, an FBI agent who is expected to discuss secret surveillance of the former Illinois governor.

Among other charges, Blagojevich is accused of trying to effectively peddle the U.S. Senate seat that belonged to Barack Obama before he resigned to become president.

The jury will weigh the ex-governor's guilt or innocence on 17 public corruption-related counts. This is after prosecutors, in February, were granted their request to drop three charges previously filed against Blagojevich, in an attempt to streamline their case.

On all but one of those counts, jurors will try to do something that others convened last year could not do: reach a decision.

In August 2010, after a two month trial and 14 days of deliberation, jurors deadlocked on 23 of the 24 charges Blagojevich had faced. They found him guilty on one count of lying to investigators -- a conviction that could carry a prison sentence of five years.

Likewise, no decision was reached on the fate of the ex-governor's brother, Robertto Blagojevich, who had been charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of extortion conspiracy, one count of attempted extortion and one count of bribery conspiracy in connection with his brother's alleged Senate-seat selling plan.

But just over a week after that trial ended, prosecutors dropped the charges against Robert Blagojevich. Yet the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald decided to press forward again with their case against Rod Blagojevich -- including trying to establish, via a jury decision, that the former governor had tried to profit by peddling his influence.

The accusation that Blagojevich tried to profit as he considered who to appoint to succeed Obama, among other allegations, prompted his impeachment by Illinois' House of Representatives and his removal from office by the state Senate in 2009.

Still, while he lost his job and faced a tough legal fight, Blagojevich did not shirk the spotlight. While awaiting trial, the ousted governor repeatedly asserted his innocence in interviews and on Twitter, as well as during appearances on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" reality show.

His retrial had been scheduled for January, but in October it was pushed back into this spring. Judge Zagel will be presiding over this trial, just as he did the first edition.