Rosemaria Genova knows what Patti Blagojevich will soon face. Her former husband, once the mayor of Calumet City, was convicted in a public corruption scandal.
"It’s a sad day, a difficult day, and the worst days are probably yet to come," Genova said Thursday.
Genova had three young children when her husband left in 2001 and served a three year sentence, far less than the 14 years former Gov. Rod Blagojevich now faces.
Genova said she would bring her children to visit their father at the federal prison camp in Oxford Wisconsin every other weekend.
"What’s difficult is people think that movies and TV shows like the Good Wife are the way it is; that there are things like conjugal visits, that you can walk in and out of facilities, that doesn’t happen,” according to Genova.
She gives a hint at what the Blagojevich family will face when they visit their father: "You are going to come in with a clear purse. You are going to buy food out of a vending machine. You are going to be scrutinized by the security. You’re going to go through metal detectors. My children had no idea what that was."
She doesn’t excuse the former governor for the crimes for which he’s found guilty, but at the same time can understand how he may have thought his behavior was acceptable.
"I think you’re seeing a lot of people who are being criminalized for what was traditionally done in Illinois. I’m not suggesting that that was proper. I’m suggesting that there are individuals who are acting in a way, that was accepted practice," said Genova.
She describes the difficulties a prison term takes on one’s marriage. The toll of those years in prison extended after Genova’s husband was released. Their marriage ended in divorce.
"Ninety percent was the statistic at one time, of families, of husbands and wives, where the husband goes to camp ends up in divorce," she said, adding: "You have so much that you are sacrificing. I used to tell people that my spouse got convicted, but I got sentenced. I got left behind to clean up the mess and that’s what [Patti Blagojevich is] going to be left behind with."