Blagojevich found guilty

Rod Blagojevich, who rode his talkative everyman image to two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him a national punch line, was convicted Monday of a wide range of corruption charges, including the incendiary allegation that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

The verdict was a bitter defeat for Blagojevich, who had spent 2 1/2 years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand. His defense team had insisted that hours of FBI wiretap recordings were just the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud.

He faces up to 300 years in prison, although federal sentencing guidelines are sure to significantly reduce his time behind bars.

After hearing the verdict, Blagojevich turned to defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky and asked, “What happened?” His wife, Patti, slumped against her brother, then rushed into her husband’s arms.

Before the decision was read, the couple looked flushed, and the former governor blew his wife a kiss across the courtroom, then stood expressionless, with his hands clasped tightly.

The verdict capped a long-running spectacle in which Blagojevich became famous for blurting on a recorded phone call that his ability to appoint Obama’s successor to the Senate was “f—ing golden” and that he wouldn’t let it go “for f—ing nothing.”

The former governor spoke only briefly with reporters as he left the courthouse, saying he was disappointed and stunned by the verdict.

“Well, among the many lessons I’ve learned from this whole experience is to try to speak a little bit less, so I’m going to keep my remarks kind of short,” Blagojevich said, adding that the couple wanted “to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and then try to sort things out.”

Blagojevich, who has been free on bond since shortly after his arrest, becomes the second straight Illinois governor convicted of corruption. His predecessor, George Ryan, is now serving 6 1/2 years in federal prison.

The verdict provided affirmation to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, one of the nation’s most prominent prosecutors, who, after the governor’s arrest, had condemned Blagojevich’s dealings as a “political crime spree.”

“The jury sent a loud and clear message that Gov. Blagojevich committed very serious crimes shaking down a children’s hospital, trying to sell a Senate seat and demanding cash campaign contributions in advance before signing a bill,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a bittersweet moment.”

Referring to the verdict against Ryan five years ago, he said: “I hope that that message is heard this time.”

*TWEETS ON THE TRIAL*

Twitter users weren’t shy about expressing their feelings on the verdict. Here are a few standouts:

*@cowhitchurch* Something Blagojevich hair jail verdict something.

*@phil_rosenthal *“Not much left to say.” — Rod Blagojevich. “About time.” — people of Illinois.

*@GeneAPseattle* Well, there’s always the #Cubs. RT *@natashakorecki* Chicago’s FBI chief says Illinois’ “national embarrassment” is over. #Blagojevich

*@StacyStClair* After verdict was read, Rod turned to Patti and whispered: “I love you.”