Ex-Sen. Ronald Burris An Issue In Chicago Trial
An Illinois Democrat appointed by disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich to a U.S. Senate in 2008 has become an issue in the lead-up to a federal trial in Chicago, with defense attorneys claiming Roland Burris was once accused of seeking to extort a business.
Word about such an allegation against the 77-year-old Burris, who held the Senate seat from 2009 to 2010, arose during a pre-trial hearing Friday for a Chicago man charged with illegally lobbying U.S. lawmakers to lift sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Prosecutors have indicated they will call Burris to testify against C. Gregory Turner, who has pleaded not guilty. Defense lawyers are attempting to dent the former senator's credibility. The trial starts Monday.
Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison term on multiple corruption convictions, including for trying to secure campaign cash or a high-paying job for an appointment to the Senate seat, which was vacated by Barack Obama after he won the 2008 presidential election.
Burris also served as Illinois Attorney General and Comptroller.