Former governor Rod Blagojevich’s long awaited date with destiny has now been set for December 6. Federal judge James Zagel has set aside two days for the Blagojevich sentencing hearing. Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky says Blagojevich will avail himself of his right to address the court.
Blagojevich was convicted on 17 counts this summer. It was his second corruption trial, the jury in the first proceeding able to reach a verdict on only a single count of lying to the FBI. While sentencing guidelines provide for an overwhelming 300 years plus in prison, most legal experts believe the former governor will face 10 to 15 years. His lawyers have declared that probation would be a more appropriate sentence.
Blagojevich was to have been sentenced in early October, but Zagel delayed the proceeding because of the trial of Springfield power broker William Cellini, a Blagojevich associate. Cellini was accused of attempting to squeeze a campaign contribution from a Hollywood producer on Blagojevich’s behalf, and was convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit extortion, and aiding and abetting the solicitation of a bribe. He allegedly threatened to withhold over $200 million in state pension funds from Rosenberg’s financial company, if the donation was not made.
The Blagojevich lawyers have made no effort to curry favor with Zagel, who has sole authority in sentencing. Indeed, just the opposite. In a lengthy filing following the trial, lawyers accused Zagel of bias against their client, declaring “the playing field was so unlevel that Blagojevich never stood a chance at a fair trial.”
Despite their lack of engagment, lawyers on both sides of the Blagojevich trial have postured for months about what sentencing recommendations they would pass along to Zagel.
Defense attorney Sheldon Sorovsky said he will recommend probation, while U.S. Attorney's will recommend something far stiffer for the convicted governor.
The government and defense were ordered to file their respective sentencing memos by Nov. 30, 2011.