Impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was arrested in December on charges of conspiracy and fraud, was indicted Thursday on 16 felony counts by a federal grand jury, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The 19-count indictment charges Blagojevich and some of his closest aides and advisers with a wide-ranging “scheme to deprive the people of Illinois of honest government,” according to a statement by the attorney’s office.
Blagojevich, 52, faces charges including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements to investigators, according to the release. Three counts in the indictment are against the aides and advisers.
In a written statement, Blagojevich maintained his innocence — as he has done throughout a political soap opera that captivated the nation.
“I’m saddened and hurt but I am not surprised by the indictment,” he said. “I am innocent. I now will fight in the courts to clear my name.”
Blagojevich was vacationing with his family in Florida on Thursday. In video shot at a Disney resort outside Orlando, Florida, by CNN affiliate WESH-TV, he declined to comment on his legal situation. He was filmed shortly before the indictments were handed down.
In the WESH video, the ex-governor was sitting near a pool at the resort. “I’m enjoying Disney World with my kids and I don’t think you’re supposed to be here,” said Blagojevich, after his wife attempted to shield him from the camera. “I’m happy to talk to you at the appropriate time.”
A man who identified himself only as “someone who knows who he is” then blocked the camera.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said he hoped the former governor wouldn’t use the announcement as a reason to hit the media circuit again.