Federal prosecutors have been granted an extra three months to seek an indictment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
U.S. Chief District Court Judge James Holderman entered an order allowing the indictment deadline to be extended from Jan. 7 to April 7, according to the court docket in the Blagojevich case. Prosecutors had sought the extension last week, citing the complexity of their investigation of pay-to-play politics in the Blagojevich administration.
U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. But it must seek a formal indictment because defendants cannot be tried on criminal complaints, which can only initiate a federal criminal case.
In making its case for the time extension, prosecutors had noted that "thousands of phone calls were intercepted between late October 2008 and early December 2008. In addition, multiple witnesses have come forward in recent weeks to discuss their knowledge of criminal activity in relation to the ongoing investigation" of the governor and and John Harris, the governor's former chief of staff.
Also, attorneys in the Blagojevich case are expected in federal court this afternoon as the chief judge weighs another request from the U.S. attorney's office.
Prosecutors also have asked Holderman to allow them to turn over portions of secretly made tape recordings in their probe of the governor to the House special investigative committee looking into impeaching Blagojevich.
Holderman has not signaled whether he will immediately hear arguments on that request or allow prosecutors and lawyers for the government to file written briefs.
U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald last week asked Holderman to allow him to give state lawmakers edited portions of four secret recordings in which Blagojevich allegedly sought campaign cash for signing legislation helpful to the state's horse-racing industry.
U.S. granted more time to indict Blagojevich
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