"It was David versus Goliath," said Robert Blagojevich. "Prosecutors were playing chicken with my life."
Robert spoke Thursday before the Chicago Bar Association about his legal battle with the government that landed him in a Federal courtroom alongside his infamous brother, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
The two were nabbed in 2008 in connection with allegations of trying to sell Barack Obama's former Senate seat, for which the former Governor was convicted.
Robert, who is older by 16 months, was indicted on five counts; extortion, conspiracy to extort, conspiracy to bribe and two charges of wire fraud. A jury was hung on those charges and his case was never retried, which left him free to speak about what he called "the battle for my freedom against a superpower."
All totaled, Robert said he spent nearly a million dollars on lawyers and legal fees. He mortgaged the house, cashed in the IRA, and lost a lifetime of savings, all to fight charges which never stuck.
Robert, a former career Army Officer who came from his home in Nashville to Chicago to help his brother fundraise for his re-election campaign, described how just four months of work led to complete destruction of life as he knew it then.
"On December 9, 2008, at 6:21am my doorbell rang," He said. "There were the proverbial two guys in trench coats standing there," to arrest him. If he didn't comply, he claimed, they threatened to "knock the door down."
Then he learned the FBI had been wiretapping his phone, and had accumulated thousands of conversations over several months.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald held a press conference back then in which he famously said "Abraham Lincoln is rolling over in his grave," in regards to the allegations. Fitzgerald later admitted he regretted that comment.
Robert Blagojevich's name is so similar to his younger brother's, it was easy for many to get confused, but the prosecutor wasn't allowing separate trials. "It polluted any jury pool," he said. "They do anything they can to discredit you and to let the wolves out."
Overall, Robert said he was so shocked and disappointed by the way he was treated he began to "Question his citizenship."
While Robert may feel lucky being among the barely 5% who walk away with their freedom after a Federal indictment, he did say "I'd feel like I won if I got my million dollars back and my reputation back."
He refused to talk about whether he's gone to visit his once highly quiffed and often outspoken brother Rod, who is now serving 14 years in a Colorado prison.
He also refused to discuss, or even admit that he traveled to Washington D.C. recently to chat with the Congressional Ethics Committee, which some claim was to talk about Jesse Jackson Junior, a Congressman whose name came up during trial as being connected to efforts to raise money in exchange for the senate seat.
As for US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's retirement, Robert thinks it's long overdue. "When you put someone in a position for too long... where he is able to amass power... where he is able to overreach, it's not a good thing."
"I'm a citizen who's learned a heck of a lesson," Blagojevich said. And there is "No question our name is now associated in a very negative way."
Blagojevich thinks there should be compensation for all the money lost, but he doesn't think he's ever going to see it. He also wants to get back his good name, but confesses "I am never going to say publicly that I am bitter."
But Robert said he will continue to speak out "because it helps me in my journey to get my name back."