Rob Blagojevich, a Nashville real estate investor and the brother of embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has retained criminal defense counsel after news emerged that he took part in some of the telephone calls that federal authorities secretly taped while building their corruption case against his brother.
Today's Chicago Sun-Times reported that Rob Blagojevich is overheard on more than 30 different conversations with the governor, including some that allegedly involved the trading of President-elect Barack Obama's former senate seat for campaign funds.
Rob Blagojevich, a former senior executive with First American Trust Co., serves as chairman of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund and, according to the newspaper, took part in aggressive fund-raising efforts meant to bring in as much cash as possible before new funding restrictions come into effect at the end of the year.
"I have no knowledge of what's on those tapes," attorney Michael Ettinger told NashvillePost.com this afternoon. "What I can tell you is, yes, he was recorded." The Chicago attorney said a "substantial number" of the wiretaps contain conversations between the two brothers.
"He's not charged with anything," Ettinger said. "I've spoken with him briefly. I haven't heard anything where he violated any law." He added that he plans to challenge the legality of the FBI's wiretapping.
"This is not the usual way the government proceeds," the lawyer said. "In this case, they went out and arrested the governor — which I thought was a grandstand play. Where's he going to?" Normally, "in 98 percent of cases," Ettinger said, the authorities would simply notify the suspect and tell him to surrender in court.
Noting that the complaint filed against Gov. Blagojevich did not constitute an indictment, Ettinger said he expects the grand jury to hand down formal charges in January. Asked whether he expects his client to be named in that indictment, Ettinger replied: "I hope not."