Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is due to appear in federal court to answer racketeering and fraud charges, amid uncertainty over the makeup of his legal team and where he will get the money to pay them.
Blagojevich, 52, faces arraignment Tuesday along with his brother, Robert, and former chief fundraiser, Christopher G. Kelly, on charges that, among other things, he schemed to sell or trade President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat.
He is also charged with planning to squeeze money from companies seeking state business and plotting to use the financial muscle of the governor's office to pressure the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial writers who had called for his impeachment.
Court officials say there would be no special treatment for Blagojevich when he arrives at the skyscraper Everett M. Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Some well-known defendants have been allowed to use a back elevator and a tunnel to avoid the media's cameras and shouted questions.
Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky, a longtime Blagojevich friend, is expected to stand by the impeached governor's side when he appears before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel.
Other attorneys have been reluctant to file an appearance with the court on behalf of the governor because it could lock them into a case that could consume thousands of hours over the next two years without any guarantee they would be paid.
Attorneys say Blagojevich is unable to afford the kind of elaborate defense that the blue chip Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn provided to former Gov. George Ryan when the firm's chairman was former Gov. James R. Thompson, a longtime Ryan friend.
Winston & Strawn defended Ryan for free. Ryan was convicted of racketeering and fraud and sentenced to 6½ years in prison.
No big names among Chicago's criminal defense lawyers are offering free services to Blagojevich.
Blagojevich does have money in his Friends of Rod Blagojevich campaign fund. But prosecutors have put defense attorneys on notice they will ask Zagel to order the campaign money forfeited if Blagojevich is convicted. Attorneys could be ordered to return their fees if they were paid from the campaign fund.
There has even been speculation that Blagojevich might have to turn to the federal defender's program if Zagel doesn't assure attorneys they can be paid through the campaign fund.
Three other defendants in the case, former aides John Harris and Alonzo Monk and Springfield millionaire William Cellini, are to be arraigned Thursday.
Harris, a former Blagojevich chief of staff, is cooperating with the federal investigation. Monk, also a former chief of staff and campaign manager, is reported to be cooperating with the investigation as well.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.