Disgraced ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich could be released early from his 14-year federal prison sentence for acts of felony corruption that included an attempt to sell Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat in exchange for a cushy position in the president-elect's cabinet.
Writing for Politico, the Chicago Sun-Times' Natasha Korecki -- who covered Blago's trial for the paper and later authored a book about it -- follows up on the case five years after the former governor's arrest and amid a looming appeals court decision that could overturn his conviction and possibly cut short his stay at a Colorado prison.
"Any day now, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is due to put out its ruling that could answer the most fundamental of questions: Were Blagojevich’s actions in fact criminal?" writes Korecki in her article, titled "Will Rod Be Spared?"
According to the legal reporter, appeals judges have problems with the basics of the case -- particularly the lack of precedent for bestowing a criminal conviction on someone who engaged in standard political bargaining. During December's appellate arguments, a government prosecutor said she was aware of no previous such convictions in U.S. history, to which a judge responded: “Where is the line that differentiates legal horse-trading from a federal offense that puts you in prison?"
It's shaping up to be a swell summer for felonious leaders of the Land of Lincoln. Earlier Wednesday, Blagojevich's predecessor, George Ryan, was released from probation following a five-year stint in federal prison on federal corruption charges.
Prepare thyselves: A Blago could be coming soon to a political theater near you.