Corruption Trial Begins for Ex-Gov. Blagojevich

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Jury selection has started in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, 18 months after his arrest for allegedly trying to sell President Obama's vacant Senate seat.

Blagojevich arrived in federal court Thursday, with his wife Patti. The 54-year-old has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts, including racketeering, wire fraud, attempted extortion and bribery.

"I feel great," Blagojevich said before walking in. "The truth shall set you free."

His wife added, "My husband is an honest man. And I know that he is innocent."

FBI investigators say they have Blagojevich on tape discussing the trade or sell of Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich is also charged with plotting to turn his administration into a moneymaking operation between himself and a group of advisers and fundraisers.

The former politician was arrested in Dec. 2008, then impeached and ousted from office weeks later. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing and never shied from the opportunity to defend himself in the spotlight.

Attorneys close to the case said a top White House official has been subpoenaed as a witness in the trial, though it has not been made public yet.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel plans to keep the jury anonymous until the trial begins.

Blagojevich faces a maximum of 415 years in prison and fines totaling $6 million. His trial is expected to take at least three months.

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