Rezko jury locked on one count

 
 
Published: 6/2/2008 2:48 PM | Updated: 6/2/2008 8:35 PM

Antoin "Tony" Rezko's jury is deadlocked on one of 24 criminal counts as it deliberates following the landmark two-month corruption trial.

In a note Monday to U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, the jury said, "We cannot decide on one count."

The jury didn't expand upon the situation, or reveal whether it had reached a verdict on the other 23 counts, ranging from wire fraud to extortion.

St. Eve called the jury members into the federal courtroom Monday afternoon and told them to continue deliberating until they reached a unanimous verdict on each count against the former Gov. Rod Blagojevich insider.

She reminded the panel of 10 women and two men that they are "impartial judges of the facts" and to give "fair and equal consideration" to the evidence and testimony. The jury adjourned for the day at 4:30 p.m., as scheduled, without further notes.

Today will mark the 11th day of deliberations.

Prosecutors accuse Rezko of using his clout as one of Blagojevich's chief fundraisers and advisers to strong-arm millions of dollars in kickbacks from state contractors.

However, the defense pointed out a lack of direct evidence putting bribe money in Rezko's pockets. The defense also told jurors they couldn't trust the litany of key prosecution witnesses who cut deals in exchange for their testimony.

If the jury remains deadlocked on one count, the judge could still allow the verdicts on the other 23 counts to stand, says Terry Sullivan, a private attorney who practices both civil and criminal law in Rolling Meadows.

"I can't imagine she'd leave them hung over long" on the one count before declaring a mistrial solely on that count, he said.

Based on the language of the note, said Sullivan, he interpreted that to mean they have, in fact, reached a verdict on those other 23 counts.

"I would read it that way," he said.