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Play-by-Play of Blagojevich Sentencing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rod Blagojevich answered only one question on the way to his sentencing hearing: how he felt about Cubs great Ron Santo being voted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

    Follow Ward Room on Twitter to keep up-to-date with action in the courtroom.

    2:15 p.m.: U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says the sentence sends a strong message. "It's profoundly sad we're here for the second time in five years for a sentencing of a governor," he said. "We don't want to be back here again." [Watch Video]

    2:11 p.m.: Blagojevich arrives home, waves to neighbors and signs an autograph.

    2:00: The Associated Press moves copy that lists other Illinois politicians who've faced legal troubles. It's incomplete, however, and does not include the 30 aldermen who have been indicted. 

    —Rod Blagojevich — Governor from 2003 through 2009, when he became the first Illinois governor in history to be impeached. Convicted of numerous corruption charges, including allegations he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat. Sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday.

    — George Ryan — Governor from 1999 through 2003. After leaving office, was convicted of racketeering for actions as governor and secretary of state. In November 2007, began serving 6 1/2 years in federal prison.

    — Dan Walker — Governor from 1973-1977. Pleaded guilty to bank fraud and other charges in 1987 related to his business activities after leaving office. Spent just over a year and a half in federal prison.

    — Otto Kerner — Governor from 1961-1968. Resigned to become judge, then was convicted of bribery related to his tenure as governor. Sentenced to three years in prison.

    — William G. Stratton — Governor from 1953-1961. Indicted after leaving office on income-tax evasion charges but was acquitted.

    — Lennington Small — Governor from 1921-1929. Indicted while in office on embezzlement charges but was acquitted.

    — Joel Matteson — Governor from 1853-1857. After leaving office, a Sangamon County court ruled that he owed the state more than $253,000 in connection with a scheme to pay government contractors. His property was sold at auction.

    — Secretary of State Paul Powell — Roughly $800,000 was found stuffed in shoe boxes Powell's home after he died in 1970.

    — Auditor Orville Hodge — Pleaded guilty in the 1950s to embezzling more than $1.5 million from the state while in office. He used the money to buy two planes, four automobiles and homes in Illinois and Florida.

    — Attorney General William Scott — Convicted of tax fraud and spent a year in prison in the 1980s. Was Illinois attorney general from 1969-80.

    — U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski — Pleaded guilty to corruption charges and left office in 1995. Served 17 months in prison, but was pardoned by President Bill Clinton. Rostenkowski was a representative from 1959-95.

    — U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds — Convicted of misconduct with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer and resigned in 1995. Served more than two years in prison. Later convicted on federal wire and bank fraud charges and sentenced to more than six years in prison. President Clinton commuted that sentence.

    1:45: Rod Blagojevich briefly addressed the media after his sentencing. Flanked by a teary-eyed Patti, Rod quoted Rudyard Kipling, and said he plans to fight through this time of adversity, for his family and his daughters. 

    Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich quotes Rudyard Kipling in brief remarks to the media after he's sentenced to 14 years on corruption charges.

     

    12:40 p.m.: Blagojevich must serve at least 11.9 years. That's 85 percent of his full sentence required by federal law.

    12:38 p.m. 
    Blagojevich shows no emotion after sentence. Patti begins sobbing, Blagojevich repeats it'll be OK. He stands with Patti, rubbing her neck.

    12:35 p.m.: A surrender date has been set for Feb. 16, 2012.

    12:31 p.m.: Zagel hands down 14 years and $20,000 fine

    12:31 p.m.: Zagel: "I can not comprehend that even if you are guilty, you don't think you caused harm to Illinois."

    12:28 p.m.: Zagel: "You did good work. But I'm more concerned when you wanted to to do good only when it benefited yourself."

    12:27 p.m.: Zagel addresses Blagojevich: "Your personality may not be entirely suitable for public service."

    12:22 p.m.: Zagel: "I see case after case where good fathers are also bad citizens."

    12:17 p.m.: Zagel: "Blagojevich's staff did not march him down this criminal path. He marched them."

    12:15 p.m.: Zagel now saying he will keep the sentence lower because Blagojevich accepted responsibility. 12.5 to 15.5 years being considered.

    12:12 p.m.: Zagel indicates he's considering 15.5 to 19.5 years

    12:10 p.m.: Zagel: "I believe that he did in fact accept the proposition that what he asked these people to do is what they did."

    11:59 a.m.: Judge Zagel enters the courtroom. Remarks are expected before he hands down the sentence.

    11:53 a.m.: Break is over, silence falls over the courtroom.

    11:37 a.m. : During the 20-minute break, Rod Blagojevich spends the time talking to his attorneys and rubbing Patti's neck.

    11:32 a.m.: Judge Zagel's sentence is expected after the break. Stay with NBC 5 and NBCChicago.com for live coverage.

    11:22 a.m.: Blagojevich wraps his speech, asks the judge if he has questions. Nothing from the judge. Court goes on 20-minute break.

    11:21 a.m.: Blagojevich spends 18 minutes accepting the verdict and his fate, apologizing to his family and the people of Illinois, then asks Zagel to "Please take mercy."

    11:20 a.m.: Blagojevich on his daughters: "I've ruined their innocence. They have to face the world knowing their father is a convicted criminal. ... It's not like their name is Smith. They can't hide."

    11:18 a.m.: "I have nobody to blame but myself," Blagojevich says.

    11:16 a.m. : Blagojevich: "My life is in ruins. Politicial career is over. I can't be a lawyer. We can't live in our home." He says he began to accept his conviction when he had to explain the verdict to his daughter.

    11:10 a.m.: "I take responsibility," Blagojevich says. "I was the governor and I should have known better."

    11:07 a.m.: Blagojevich apologizes to the judge, to the people of Illinois, the prosecutors, his brother ...

    11 a.m.: Blagojevich takes the stand to make a final plea for leniency in his sentencing.

    10:50 a.m.: Schar hammers home that a message "must be sent" and asks for a sentence of 15 - 20 years.

    10:48 a.m.: Schar: "The defendant [Blagojevich] doesn't show any remorse. ... He blames everyone and anyone for the crimes he committed."

    10:45 a.m.: "Judge, the defendant was corrupt," Schar says. "He was corrupt when he took office." Schar says Blagojevich even managed to make certain mentions during his retrial testimony to appeal to jurors.

    10:35 a.m.: "He is incredibly manipulative and he knows how to be," Schar says. "He's clever."

    10:29 a.m.: Prosecutor Reid Schar begins by disputing that Blagojevich did not harm the people of Illinois. "He held up funding to children's hospitals," Schar says.

    10:26 a.m.: Day 2 of Blagojevich's sentencing hearing begins.

    10:20 a.m.: Blagojevich appears upbeat as he speaks to members of his defense team and media inside the courtroom as we wait for the hearing to begin.

    10:16 a.m.: Patti Blagojevich turns to Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki with a request that her water break now. (Korecki is due next week.)

    10:05 a.m.: Lawyers begin walking into the courtroom.

    9:50 a.m.: 
    Blagojevich enters the Dirksen through the basement.

    9:38 a.m.: Big crowds congregate at Dirksen awaiting Blagojevich's arrival. On Tuesday, he avoided cameras and entered through the tunnel.

    9:20 a.m.: Rod Blagojevich and his wife Patti leave their Ravenswood home for the Dirksen Federal Building. Blagojevich has nothing to say to reporters except "Good morning."

    Sentencing Day 1:

    Tuesday wrap:

    5:00 p.m. Sentencing hearing ends for the day. Hearing continues at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

    4:56 p.m. Letter from Blagojevich daughter read in court: "I will not be able to handle my father not being around... I'll need him when my heart gets broken."

    4:55 p.m. Letter from Patti Blagojevich being read in court. Says "the one punishment Blagojevich fears the most"... the one most devastating is that he won't see his daughter grow. Patti asks, on behalf of the life of her husband of the childhood of her daughters, "Please be merciful."

    4:50 p.m.: Goldstein: Blagojevich doesn't deserve mercy, but his family does.

    4:45 p.m. Goldstein reads letters written by Blagojevich to his daughter, Amy. Patti Blagojevich is in the front row, crying quietly and wiping tears.

    4:42 p.m.: Goldstein: "I give you these stories not for sympathy [but] to give you another side of this man... not a criminal."

    4:40 p.m.: Goldstein ends with a personal story about his father's death just days before Blagojevich's trial began. "Blagojevich called that day and was a friend," he said.

    4:30 p.m. In an attempt to shed Blagojevich in a positive light, defense team shows video of woman describing how she beneffited from free transit program pioneered by the former governor.

    3:28 p.m.: Sorosky says Blagojevich is guilty of four wrongs -- Senate seat, Children's Hospital,  racetrack and lying to the FBI -- but none calls for 15 to 20 years in prison.

    [ Review: Blago Guilty on 17 Counts (June 27)The 20 Counts ]

    3:23 p.m.: "The court has to look at what [Blagojevich] was convicted of," said Defense Attorney Sheldon Sorosky. "What is a just sentence for what he did?"

    2:59 p.m.: Goldstein says Blagojevich's crimes were "nowhere near" former Gov. George Ryan's crimes, and "he only received 6 1/2 years."

    2:49 p.m.: Judge Zagel wants to clarify that Blagojevich isn't asking for probation. Atty. Goldstein says, "No. The lowest sentence possible."

    2:44 p.m.: "Blagojevich does not need to be sentenced anywhere near what the government is asking for, as a general deterrent," says Attorney Aaron Goldstein. "The amount of pain, public humility and punishment is plenty general deterrent."

    2:37 p.m.: Gurland says If Blagojevich is sentenced to the max asked by the government, he will be "the most severely punished political corruption def in Illinois history."

    2:28 p.m.: "Individuals should be sentenced as individuals," Gurland says. "[It should be an] individualized process."

    2:24 p.m.: Defense says making Blagojevich pay for past politician's conduct is "demonstratively unfair."

    2:15 p.m.: Gurland says Blagojevich and wife Patti appeared on reality shows, allowing themselves to be "ridiculed" in order to make money for their family.

    2:01 p.m.: Painting Blagojevich as a family man, his attorneys say, "He missed several political events ... fundraising opportunities in order to spend time with his family."

    1:50 p.m.: Gurland says Blagojevich is asking for leniency because of his concern for his family. and "the devastation his absence would cause." She calls Blagojevich's "adoration" for his family "extraordinary."

    12:30 p.m.: Court breaks for hour lunch. Stay tuned for more updates.

    12:26 p.m.: "Mr. Blagojevich is a kind and compassionate man who is sincere in his efforts to help people," Gurland says.

    12:24 p.m.: "The law is murky," Gurland says, "when it comes to public officials requesting campaign contributions."

    12:16 p.m. : Gurland: "Blagojevich asked for campaign contributions. He did not ask for cash in envelopes."

    12:10 p.m.: Blagojevich is expected to speak on his behalf later this afternoon.

    12:06 p.m.: Defense Attorney Carolyn Gurland lays out the case for "leniency in sentencing".

    11:58 a.m.: Monroe says eight percent of her patients are treated with the help of former Gov. Blagojevich's health care plan, "All Kids." She testifies her patients would not be getting treatment without the help of the program.

    11:56 a.m.: Blagojevich defense calls first witness: Dr. Deanna Monroe, a pediatrician.

    11:34 a.m.: Court takes 10 minute break

    11:26 a.m. : Zagel says he doesn't believe Blagojevich wanted to appoint Lisa Madigan to the Senate seat. Zagel thinks he was leaning toward appointing Jesse Jackson Jr. to get campaign donations.

    11:22 a.m.: Judge Zagel, speaking about sentencing guidelines, agrees that "30 years to life is not appropriate in context of this case."

    11:17 a.m.: "What [Blagojevich] wanted to obtain ... can't be the standard. Loftiness, hopes & dreams ... can lead to decades in prison."

    11:06 a.m.: Judge Zagel says he'll rule on sentencing guidelines before the court takes a break.

    10:45 a.m.: "He wasn't asking for an illegal product," Schar says. "He was asking in an illegal way."

    10:41 a.m.: Schar calls Blagojevich a "clever defendant and clever criminal."

    10:40 a.m.: Prosecutor Reid Schar: "The defendant wasn't in the business of returning money. Numbers were clear of what [Blagojevich] wanted to obtain."

    10:39 a.m.: "As revealed by tapes, Blagojevich sought advice of advisers rather than directed them (to obtain money),"Gurland says.

    10:25 a.m.: "Fundraising requests were just that," Gurland says. "Fundraising requests. Not bribes."

    10:20 a.m.: Gurland says campaign fundraising amounts sought by Blagojevich were just "hopes and predictions. Spreadsheets were fundraising goals"

    10:14 a.m.: New Blagojevich attorney Carolyn Gurland starts off hearing, calls the government's sentence request "extreme."

    10:12 a.m.: Judge James Zagel enters the courtroom. Blagojevich's sentencing hearing is underway.

    9:55 a.m.: Reporter Natasha Korecki points out Blagojevich walks up to Patti and touches her hand, says "I Love you."

    9:50 a.m.: Blagojevich enters the courtroom for his sentencing hearing. Patti Blagojevich is seen sitting next to her brother.

    9:46 a.m.: A large crowd congregates outside the sentencing courtroom. Attorneys are seen in the hallway.

    9:20 a.m. Blagojevich reportedly is inside the federal building. He may have entered through the tunnel to avoid cameras. Lawyers Sheldon Sorosky and Aaron Goldstein arrive separately though the front door.

    9:11 a.m.: Four of the jurors who convicted Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges arrive for his sentencing hearing.

    8:31 a.m. Blagojevich leaves his Ravenswood home for the Dirksen Federal Building. He doesn't answer reporters' questions except for one about Ron Santo being voted into the Hall of Fame. "God bless him," he said. "Long overdue."

    7:37 a.m. Blagojevich's kids picked up for school.

    Pre-sentencing: 

    Judge James Zagel says he will deliver Rod Blagojevich’s fate Wednesday.

    Zagel had already set aside two days for the hearing, beginning Tuesday morning.  But in a court session Friday, when Blagojevich’s attorneys advised Zagel that they did not plan lengthy remarks, the judge urged them not to try to "cram everything in," advising them he was not planning to rule until the following day.

    Zagel took the opportunity to explain, in sometimes excruciating legal detail, his reasons for denying Blagojevich’s petition for a new trial. He advised lawyers they had a fair jury, and that their complaints that the former governor was unfairly limited in his testimony were unfounded.

    The defense contended that because of Zagel’s rulings, Blagojevich was not allowed to make a case that he felt that everything he did as governor were legal.  But Zagel bristled at that suggestion, calling the defense arguments a "red herring".

    "By the time he left the stand, he had told the jury that he thought his actions were legal."

    In postrial motions, Blagojevich’s lawyers said they never would have called their defendant to the stand, if they would have known of Zagel’s limits on his testimony.  But the judge said however slim, testifying on his own behalf was Blagojevich’s only hope.

    "His best chance for acquittal was to testify," Zagel corrected the lawyers. "The defendant was, in fact, the only one who could win his case, and do it from the witness stand."

    The judge said many of the tapes painted Blagojevich as an "unsavory character," with "intense personal dislike for those who stood in his way," and said Blagojevich was the only person who could change that, by presenting a different persona from the witness stand.

    Zagel criticized the defense for their strategy of putting Blagojevich in the public eye, on radio and television.

    "All of this worked to keep memories fresh," he said, suggesting that the strategy had backfired. 

    "If there was jury contamination, a good deal of its fault was the defendant's."

    Defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky advised the judge that he hoped to play up to 20, as yet unplayed undercover tapes during the sentencing hearing.  Zagel had already ruled against a defense motion to play or at least reference at least 180 tapes which had been under seal.  But Sorosky said he was in discussions with prosecutors to reach agreement on the 20 he hoped to use. 

    "I honestly think the government wants a fair and open hearing, as do we," said Sorosky.