Blagojevich Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges

Former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and ousted, has been indicted on charges he engaged in a "wide-ranging scheme to deprive the people of Illinois of honest government."

A federal grand jury handed down the 19-count indictment against Blagojevich, his brother, two former aides and two businessmen Thursday. It accuses Blagojevich of corruption involving billions of dollars in state pension bonds.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitgerald had until Tuesday to get an indictment against Blagojevich but Thursday was the last day for the grand jury to meet.

FBI agents arrested the Chicago Democrat in December on allegations that also include trying to auction off President Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Illinois lawmakers impeached him and threw him out of office in January.

Blagojevich released the following statement Thursday evening:

"I'm saddened and hurt but I am not surprised by the indictment. I am innocent. I now will fight in the courts to clear my name. I would ask the good people of Illinois to wait for the trial and afford me the presumption of innocence that they would give to all their friends and neighbors."
The PR firm representing the governor, The Publicity Agency, will send out alerts and advisories as developments warrant."

Blagojevich has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has promised to fight the charges in court and has a book contract to tell his side.

The former governor is not in Chicago; he's with his family at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Obama's deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, said the White House would not comment. Blagojevich's indictment does not allege any wrongdoing by Obama or his associates.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., whom Blagojevich defiantly appointed to replace Obama in the Senate, told FOX News the senator nor his staff will have no comment on the indictment.

Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., who was one of several Senate appointees Blagojevich considered, told FOX News Blagojevich's indictment is "a sad day for the state of Illinois. It's a sad day for politics.

"I'm still hoping that the governor is not guilty," he added. "I think the voters and the citizens must put this behind them as quickly as they can."

Illinois Republican Party seized on Blagojevich's indictment to denounce Democrats.

"Today's indictment opens another tragic chapter in the national embarrassment of Blagojevich Democrats have brought on the people of Illinois," state Republican Chairman Andy McKenna said in a statement.

"This is another sad day in our state's history, but Republicans are ready to bring change and reform to government and are fighting to bring a new beginning for the people of Illinois," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.