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Revised Blagojevich indictment expected next week

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[January 28, 2010]  CHICAGO (AP) -- Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they expect a grand jury to produce a fresh indictment against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich by the end of next week. But the new version is expected to look a lot like the current one.

HardwareThe new indictment is expected to be essentially a revision of the corruption charges the ousted former governor is facing, alleging the same misconduct.

It is being prepared in case the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a federal law Blagojevich is accused of violating -- depriving Illinois taxpayers of their right to his honest services.

The high court is reviewing the honest services fraud law, which Justice Antonin Scalia once described as so vague a mayor might be charged with violating it if he used his political clout to get a good table at a restaurant.

Blagojevich is scheduled to go on trial on June 3, charged along with his brother, Robert Blagojevich, with scheming to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and campaign fundraising misconduct. Both have pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel asked prosecutors at a brief hearing Wednesday when they expected the new indictment.

"I would expect that the grand jury would vote it by the end of next week," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said.

Zagel said that if the indictment is approved on time, the arraignment would be Feb. 10.

Defense attorneys said after the hearing that they didn't think the new indictment would delay the trial much, if at all.

Blagojevich is charged with 11 counts of wire fraud, three counts of attempted extortion and one count apiece of racketeering conspiracy, fraud conspiracy, extortion conspiracy and making false statements to FBI agents. Honest services fraud is one form of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

[Associated Press; By MIKE ROBINSON]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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