Chicago: Disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty of a host of corruption charges, including those relating to his attempt to trade President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, and faces up to 15 years in jail.

The verdict by a jury here in the corruption retrial of 54-year-old Blagojevich came on Monday after 10 days of deliberations.

The ousted Governor was convicted of 17 of the 20 counts against him, including those relating to his attempt to auction off Obama's vacated Senate seat.

According to experts, Blagojevich, when sentenced later this year, could be awarded 10 to 15 years in jail.

During the retrial, the court was told that two Indian-American Chicago businessmen Rajinder Bedi and Raghuveer Nayak had promised to hold fundraisers for Blagojevich in exchange for appointing Jesse Jackson J, in the empty senate seat of the then President-elect Obama.

Blagojevich was, however, found not guilty of a count of soliciting a bribe related to a road builder shakedown that involved a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Top federal prosecutor in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald, said the verdict had sent a "loud and clear message" that the ousted Illinois Governor committed serious crimes.

Fitzgerald called Blagojevich's conviction "a bittersweet moment."

"It is sad to again be dealing with a verdict against a former Illinois governor – just five years after Governor George Ryan was convicted on corruption charges," he said.

Fitzgerald said he hopes the message is heard this time that such actions will not be tolerated.

In a note to Judge James Zagel, the jury, which reached a unanimous decision on 18 of the 20 counts, wrote that they were "confident we will not come to an agreement" on the other two counts, "even with further deliberations."

At the retrial, Jesse Jackson Jr and Mayor Rahm Emanuel also testified.
Although Emanuel denied that Blagojevich had tried to do any wrongdoing, Jackson did admit the ex-Governor had out rightly asked him for USD 25,000 for his campaign in exchange of appointing his wife Sandi as Illinois Lottery Director.

"It was very difficult; there were several times when we had to vote and revote," said one juror.

The jurors said that Blagojevich's testimony in some ways made their jobs harder, because they found him "personable," but that they focused on the evidence, and the evidence was clear.

"I felt at times (his testimony) was manipulative," said another juror. "I would have rather just heard the facts."

The jurors said that the entire trial left them with a negative impression of Illinois politics.

Blagojevich will likely post his residence and condo in Washington as part of forfeiture, according to news reports.

Speaking about the culture of corruption in Illinois, Mayor Emanuel said in a town hall meeting that he had signed six executive orders when he joined office in May for changing the ethics for Mayor's job.

Even the city council ethical conduct rules were overhauled, he said.

Emanuel said that he had also tried to change laws relating to resources from credit cards to cars given to politicians and added that public service should be about serving the public.

(Agencies)