Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Blago Brother Rips Jackson Sentence

Robert Blagojevich says there's a disparity in sentences; says former congressman needs to be charged with trying to buy U.S. Senate seat

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    Robert Blagojevich

    The brother of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says there's a serious disparity in the sentence his brother received and the prison time lobbed against Jesse Jackson Jr. on Wednesday afternoon.

    "It's out of balance," Robert Blagojevich said in a telephone conversation of the 30-month sentence given to the former congressman. "The sentence ... compared to my brother's, makes his disproportionately unbalanced and severe, and I'm hoping that the appellate process will finally render my brother some justice."

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    Jackson back in February pleaded guilty  to charges he used $750,000 in campaign funds on spa treatments, vacations, household supplies and celebrity memorabilia.

    As Wednesday's penalty was handed down against Jackson, the former governor was in a federal facility near Denver, five months into the second year of a 14-year prison sentence on a corruption conviction.

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    Robert Blagojevich said he believes Jackson's sentence would have been -- and should have been -- more severe, had Jackson been charged with trying to buy President Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat.

    "Given my experience with my brother, I believe that Congressman Jackson has yet to take responsibility for actions he put in place, putting emissaries in place to bribe us for the Senate seat," Blagojevich explained from his Nashville home. "The Department of Justice knows he did. The FBI knows he did. The U.S. attorney in Chicago knows that he did and former Congressman Jackson knows that he did, and now it's time for the system, or at least him, to admit and take responsibility for that. That hurts a lot of people and put into motion a series of events that were irreversible."

    But given the charges that Jackson did face -- mail fraud, wire fraud and making false statements -- former federal prosecutor Gil Soffer insisted there is no equal comparison to be made between Jackson and Blagojevich's sentences.

    "When you plug in the numbers and facts into the formula that is the sentencing guideline, you spit out something that is more serious for the governor than for Jesse Jackson," Soffer explained.

    Jackson has always denied he tried to buy the Senate seat and has never been charged with that crime.