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Why Blagojevich Should Be Sentenced Now

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Why Blagojevich Should Be Sentenced Now
Jack Higgins
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There’s a scene near the end of "Godfather II," when Michael Corleone is plotting to have his old rival assassinated as he lands at the Miami airport.

Michael’s consigliere, Tom Hagen, questions whether that’s really necessary.

“Alright -- just consider this, Mike -- that’s all just consider it,” Hagen says. “Now Roth and the Rosatos are on the run -- are they worth it? And are they strong -- is it worth it -- I mean you’ve won -- do you have to wipe everyone out?”

That’s what I’d say if I were consilgiere to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and he wanted my advice on Rod Blagojevich’s request to forgo a second trial. Blagojevich wants to be sentenced on his lone conviction, for lying to the FBI. It carries a maximum five-year sentence.

“Pat,” I’d say, “you’ve won. Rod was impeached as governor. He’s been convicted of a felony. He’ll never be able to run for office again. He’s disgraced. He’s so broke he’s doing pistachio commercials to make ends meet.”

Blagojevich is offering to walk into jail, like Otis Campbell after a bender, because he no longer has the money to put up a defense. He ran through a $3 million campaign fund during his first trial. Now his superstar lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., has moved on to better-heeled clients, and Blagojevich can’t afford to pay lawyers to conduct investigations or seek expert opinions. This time around, the government is paying to defend the indigent ex-governor.

“The financial hardship . . . has created a vast inequity,” the motion says. “The government continues to have every resource at its disposal. Yet, the defense is stymied in its ability to prepare for trial.”

I’d say five years in prison is more than fair for a governor whose alleged crimes were motivated more by vanity than venality. George Ryan only got six-and-a-half for actually filling his campaign fund with bribes. Fitzgerald wants to re-try Blagojevich for crimes that could carry 20-year sentences. That's overkill.

Pat, you’ve won. Take the deal and spare the taxpayers the expense of another trial. 

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