Impeached Illinois Governor Gets 14-Year Sentence

December 07, 2011

Rod Blagojevich, husband, father and ousted Illinois governor, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday for political corruption.

It is one of the harshest penalties ever handed down in Illinois involving a politician who abused power in office.

Blagojevich, who was found guilty on 18 felony counts of corruption, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama, was also fined almost $22,000 by U.S. District Judge James Zagel. Until the financially ruined Blagojeviches sell their Chicago real estate, they might have trouble coming up with that money.

Blagojevich, who turns 55 on Saturday, was not immediately taken into custody and has until February 16, 2012 before he has to surrender. At a minimum, he will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence, which comes out just under 12 years.

Prisoners sentenced to more than 10 years are often sent to a medium-security prison within 500 miles of the inmate’s home. Blagojevich’s attorneys are expected to ask for a prison work camp.

The twice-elected Democrat becomes the fourth Illinois governor over the last four decades to be sentenced to prison, and the second in a row: His Republican predecessor, George Ryan, is currently serving a 6.5 year sentence in federal prison for corruption.

After years of antics in the media professing his innocence, Blagojevich finally admitted some guilt in court before his sentence was laid down.

“I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions, words, things that I did, that I thought I could do,” he said.

“The jury convicted me. Those were my actions. Those were things I did; talked about doing. I am responsible for that. I caused it all. I’m not blaming anybody. I was the governor, and I should have known better.”

While the penalty is stiff, prosecutors had requested a sentence of 15-20 years. Before handing down his judgement, Judge Zagel said that while he believes Blagojevich is finally accepting responsibility for his actions, too many were hurt by them.

“When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily or quickly repaired,” Zagel told Blagojevich in court.

“You did that damage.”

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