Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years

December 6, 2011

Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison yesterday for his June conviction on 18 counts of corruption including charges that he attempted to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat for campaign contributions or a top job. The impeached governor must report to prison on February 16th.

The disgraced Blagojevich, who denied any wrongdoing and reveled in the celebrity of his indictment by appearing on reality shows such as Celebrity Apprentice and once challenged prosecutors to face him like a man asked the court for mercy at his sentencing. “My life is ruined” Blagojevich told the court. “I have nobody to blame but myself . . . I am just so incredibly sorry”. Blagojevich offered more than half a dozen apologies, including to his former constituients in Illinois and to his family. “I have ruined their innocence” he told the court.

But, Blagojevich’s apologies were not enough for Judge James Zagel who sentenced Blagojevich to 14 years in prison. Judge Zagel told Blagojevich: “When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily repaired”. As the sentence was read, Blagojevich slumped in his seat and his family wept. Federal authorities have yet to decide were Blagojevich, who must serve at least 12 years, will serve his sentence.

“I’ve had a lot of clients who’ve had to start making preparations the day after they were sentenced” said Attorney Gail Pissetzky, a Chicago defense lawyer, “but not a single one of them has been able to prepare for saying goodbye to their children”.

Many saw the 14 year sentence, which was slightly less than what prosecutors had sought, as excessive. According to the group Fairness in Sentencing, child sex offenders in the State of Illinois receive an average sentence of 9.8 years in prison. Still, others feel that the harsh sentence was appropriate given Blagojevich’s position as governor and in the way many felt he made a mockery of the justice system by taunting prosecutors and would send an appropriate message to other politicians.

“If there’s a public official out there who is thinking about committing a crime, boy, they ought to be thinking twice”. United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. Blagojevich will join his predecessor, former Illinois governor George Ryan, who was also convicted of federal corruption charges but who received only a six and one half year sentence.

Blagojevich is expected to appeal his conviction and his 14 year sentence.

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