A federal judge on Tuesday declined to lower former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's prison sentence, maintaining his original 14-year sentence, despite an appeals court tossing five of the 18 counts that he was convicted on.
"I am sympathetic to [his family], but as I said four years ago, the fault lies with the governor," U.S. District Judge James Zagel said before making his ruling.
In his first public appearance since entering prison, Blagojevich was shown on a courtroom camera as he learned his fate during his last attempt at early release.
Appearing via a video conference from his Colorado prison, an emotional, fidgety and gray-haired Blagojevich addressed the court, saying during the hearing that he's "trying to be the best man I can."
A live blog from the hearing is below.
12:48 p.m. Patti Blagojevich: “Once again, unfortunately, I have to express our profound disappointment in the rulings by Judge Zagel today. From our point of view, and from the point of view of thousands of people that have reached out to me in the past four years, we find his sentence unusually cruel and heartless and unfair. I would like to express our thanks to everyone who has reached out to us with well wishes and prayers and thoughts hoping that today was going to go differently than what it did. Somehow we will get through this. We love Rod and we will be here for him as we continue to fight through this legal system that has unfortunately disappointed us over and over again. Um… I don’t really have anything else to say. I’m dumbfounded and flabbergasted at the inability for the judge to see that things are different than how they were 4.5 years ago and his unwillingness to bestow even the smallest amount of leniency, or mercy, or kindness.”
12:32 p.m. Microphones set up in the courthouse lobby for reaction from Patti Blagojevich.
12:17 p.m. Court has ended. Blagojevich grabbed his court file and walked out of the room. He is expected to be released in 2024.
12:14 p.m. Blagojevich standing as Judge Zagel exits court. He looks upset and shakes his head. His daughters can be heard crying in the courtroom.
12:13 p.m. Despite Appellate Court vacating five counts, Zagel keeps 168-month sentence. Blagojevich shook his head and stares stoically into the camera.
12:10 p.m. BREAKING: Zagel keeps same sentence of 14 years.
12:07 p.m. Judge Zagel: "I find his behavior beyond serious and quite disrespectful."
12:05 p.m. Judge Zagel: "I am sympathetic to them [his family], but as I said four years ago, the fault lies with the governor."
12:04 p.m. Zagel: "They think of him as a good man, but they don't know him, don't know him in the context of a powerful politician."
12:03 p.m. Judge Zagel: "I don't dispute [the governor] may be a model prisoner."
12:01 p.m. Zagel: "The same three shakedowns at the original trial still apply."
12 p.m. Zagel: "He argues the only charges left are only related to attempts to raise campaign funds. He claims he didn't accept cash bribes."
11:58 a.m. Zagel: "It's not easy to say it's OK and we can move on, because the fabric of the state is torn and trust among its citizens is diminished."
11:57 a.m. Zagel: "The result the governor's action inflicted on the people of Illinois."
11:56 a.m. Judge Zagel: "About 4 1/2 years ago, I sentenced the governor to 168 months. In doing so, I considered what I considered significant damage."
11:52 a.m. Defense Attorney: "Remember what his priorities were. He wanted to raise campaign funds to strengthen himself ... defeat the opposition."
11:51 a.m. U.S. Attorney: "Heartbreaking to see two innocent daughters watching their father on TV ... but we can't forget the people of Illinois."
11:48 a.m. U.S. Attorney Debra Bonamici: "He's entitled to proclaim his innocence."
11:47 a.m. U.S. Attorney: "Defendant's attorneys say crimes are in a gray area that are less serious. ... These are serious crimes. They affect our way of governing."
11:46 a.m. U.S. Attorney: "As long as the defendant is unable or unwilling to accept his actions, there can be no rehabilitation. ... These are denials of guilt."
11:41 a.m. U.S. Attorney: "Even after four-and-a-half years, the defendant hasn't taken the first step in rehabilitation."
11:33 a.m. Prosecutor: "He is the same man who appeared before you in 2011."
11:32 a.m. Final words from Blagojevich's attorney as he asked for a five-year sentence: "We believe he's ready to come home."
11:31 a.m. Blagojevich thanked Judge Zagel for giving him the chance to apologize and address the court. He spoke for almost 18 minutes.
11:29 a.m. "I think because of all the trial and tribulations I've become someone who has learned a lot from the mistakes that I made."
11:27 a.m. "I experience very real sadness when I think of my family and I blame myself for that ... trying to make amends for that."
11:26 a.m. "In prison, everything slows down ... but the time has given me opportunity to reflect, given me a chance to grow in my faith."
11:24 a.m. "Helping the others ... I've discovered I helped quell the anger I had about everything that happened ... something that I brought on myself. "
11:22 a.m. Blagojevich says he talked about history makers who persevered to give fellow inmates motivation.
11:21 a.m. Blagojevich: "I enjoy teaching, I taught history and the Civil War and WWI."
11:18 a.m. He describes his fellow inmates he served with while in FCI, "sex offenders, there were a lot of them, murderers. ..."
11:17 a.m. "When I left home, I knew what my responsibility was, to serve my time with obedience ... and help everyone I could along the way."
11:17 a.m. "Trying to be the best man I can ... leaving behind the anger and moving forward."
11:15 a.m. Blagojevich: "My purpose, among the purposes I have, is to keep going and carry on. It's difficult despite the sentence and separation."
11:14 a.m. "Among the mistakes I made was to have fought back. I shouldn't have fought my battles in court."
11:13 a.m. Blagojevich: "I recognize that my words and actions have led me here. I've made mistakes I wish I had a way to turn the clock back."
11:11 a.m. Former Governor Blagojevich is going to address the court.
11:10 a.m. Amy closes by saying, "He has never given up on us and we will never give up on him."
11:10 a.m. Blagojevich purses his lips and almost looks like he's going to cry as he listens to his daughters talk about missing their father.
11:09 a.m. Amy: "My dad used to be my best friend. ... We had a great relationship. When he left, I lost a friend and a companion."
11:09 a.m. Amy: "The longer my father is gone, the more we become estranged."
11:08 a.m. Blagojevich smiled as Annie finished her statement. Amy Blagojevich, 20, is now speaking.
11:07 a.m. Annie: "I almost don't want to grow up because I want to wait for him."
11:07 a.m. "I miss spending time with hime. ... The older I get, it's harder to remember the times we spent together. I have to travel to Colorado to see him."
11:06 a.m. Annie: "We speak every night. ... He helps me with my homework. ... He knows everything."
11:05 a.m. Blagojevich's daughter, Annie Blagojevich, age 13, is now speaking to the court. "He is an amazing father."
11:03 a.m. Matuzak says the letters come from criminals with all kinds of convictions. "Mr. Blagojevich does not discriminate."
10:56 a.m. Former Gov. Blagojevich sits still in his chair and watches the monitor closely while listening to his attorneys speak on his behalf.
10:54 a.m. Defense Attorney Melissa Matuzak is now reading excerpts of letters written by other inmates on behalf of the man they call "Gov."
10:53 a.m. Goodman talking about how two-thirds of the prison population at Englewood FCI wrote letters on his behalf, and he's been a model inmate.
10:51 a.m. Goodman: "Arrogance and anger are no longer present in this man."
10:50 a.m. "Defendant, even though 1,000 miles away, is a different man that stands before you than the man in 20011. Extraordinary efforts to redeem himself."
10:48 a.m. Goodman: "He was motivated by passion. not by greed. It may have been illegal, but you can't compare it to a politician who sells office."
10:47 a.m. Goodman: "Unlike every other politician, Blagojevich never took a bribe, gift, free vacation, accepted a loan. He ever took money from campaign fund."
10:46 a.m. Goodman: "They were not crimes designed or motivated to enrich himself of his family."
10:44 a.m. Attorney Goodman is going through the counts Blaojevich was charged with. "This is wrong, they shouldn't have happened," he says.
10:42 a.m. "What I would submit to the court," Goodman says, " is the case is no longer about selling case for office gain. None of these funds were collected but attempted."
10:38 a.m. "We are here to take a fresh look," Defense Attorney Len Goodman says. "The case you have before you today is different than case in 2011."
10:37 a.m. "We're back here today to resentence Governor Blagojevich," Judge Zagel said.
10:35 a.m. Judge Zagel just entered the courtroom. Blagojevich stands as he enters.
10:27 a.m. Blagojevich continues to fidget and rock in his chair while waiting for resentencing to begin. Aside from white hair, he looks the same.
10:22 a.m. Rod Blagojevich is sitting in a chair, alone in a room, waiting for resentencing to begin. He's wearing navy colored prison issued clothes
10:20 a.m. First image of a white-haired Rod Blagojevich just shown on tv in courtroom. It's been 4 years & 5 months since we've last seen him.
10 a.m. Patti Blagojevich arrives to court with her daughters and sister. She does not take questions.
9:41 a.m. Rod Blagojevich's brother, Robert, arrives to court. He has not seen his brother since Aug. 17, 2010. When asked, "What do you think he will look like today?" he said, "Hopefully healthy and well."
"He's my brother," he said. "I love him. I want to be here and see how he is"
"My brother has a lot of potential."