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Criminal defense lawyers representing former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his campaign manager/brother Robert Blagojevich will review and rework their legal strategies after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago lodged new extortion and bribery charges against the defendants on Thursday. The eight new counts against the ex-governor and three new counts against his brother came in a Feb. 4 superseding indictment. The government had said that it would bring the new charges mainly to beef up its case in light of the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will find unconstitutional a type of charge included in the original indictments. The Supreme Court this term is reviewing three cases in which defendants were convicted of “honest services” fraud, which relates to public or corporate officials depriving citizens or shareholders of their intangible right to honest services. Rod Blagojevich was charged in the original April 2009 indictment with 11 counts of honest-services wire fraud, and those charges still stand. The ex-governor’s legal defenses will change to adapt to the new bribery and extortion statutes cited by the superseding indictment, said defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky of Chicago-based Kaplan & Sorosky. “We have to do some homework, and we have to present new defenses,” Sorosky said at a Thursday press conference, adding that his team of lawyers had yet to study the new indictment. Sorosky emphasized that there was no new criminal conduct alleged in the indictment, calling it “warmed-up old soup,” and that his client was innocent. He doesn’t expect to seek to postpone the June trial date. Rob Blagojevich’s lawyer, Michael Ettinger, said there was new illegal conduct alleged against his client, noting that the superseding indictment claims for the first time that his client was part of the conspiracy to auction President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder. Ettinger, a partner with Palos Heights, Ill.-based Ettinger, Besbekos & Schroeder, said the new charges will force him to listen to the federal wiretap tapes of conversations by the defendants again and will lead him to file a slew of new motions. The motions will seek more details with respect to the charges, a copy of the grand jury transcript and dismissal of the new counts, he said. The ex-governor’s former chief of staff, John Harris, is also the subject of one new extortion count, but he won’t be changing his defense, said Terry Ekl of Lisle, Ill.-based Ekl Williams, who represents Harris. “Because he is cooperating and because he has admitted certain misconduct, the fact that he is being charged under this new count will have zero impact on us,” said Ekl.

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