Blago Sentenced to 14 Years for Corruption

Rod Blagojevich is going to prison for 14 years and a $20,000 fine.

The convicted former governor was sentenced Wednesday to 168-169 months in prison by Judge James Zagel after being convicted this summer of 17 counts of corruption, including trying to sell now-President Barack Obama's Senate seat. Zagel said Blagojevich was the mastermind of the corruption during his tenure as governor.

"Rod Blagojevich's staff did not march him down the path of corruption," Zagel said during his sentencing. "He marched them."

Blagojevich will surrender himself on February 16.

Federal prosecutors last week requested a 15-20 year sentence, citing "extensive corruption in office, the damage he caused to the integrity of Illinois government, and the need to deter others from similar acts."

Zagel said he agreed with that range before Blagojevich took the stand one last time and took responsibility for the crimes.

The judge said his contrite admission helped reduce his sentence.

Blagojevich attorneys asked for leniency, arguing that by their calculations the former governor should get no more than 41 to 51 months, but Zagel felt he deserved more, and told the court that he believed Blagojevich had lied on the witness stand when he said during the trial he was fully prepared to appoint Lisa Madigan to the Barack Obama senate seat.

“I don’t think there was any other deal on the table," said Zagel, who said he was convinced, after hearing the evidence, that Jesse Jackson Jr. was Blagojevich’s number one pick for the seat.

In 2008, Blagojevich was impeached from the governor's office after being charged with racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion, including the infamous "sale" of Obama's Senate Seat.

In Blagojevich's first trial, jurors were deadlocked on all charges but one, lying to the FBI. The second trial focused on more detail about the former governor's life and behavior.

Defense attorneys portrayed Blagojevich as a rambling man who didn't mean the comments heard on wiretap tapes. Prosecutors carefully outlined each of the charges, including three additional racketeering charges.

In the end, the 11-woman, one-man retrial jury found the former governor guilty after nine days of deliberation. Jurors decided Blagojevich had tried to sell Obama's Senate seat and personally gained from his position of power. Each of the wire fraud convictions carry a maximum 20 years in prison.

They spared the former governor on count 17, however, saying he never shook down the Illinois Tollway. The jury didn't come to an agreement on counts 11 and 16, which dealt with the Illinois Tollway and trying to get favors for releasing funds for an elementary school.

Blagojevich's sentence could be carried out in a Terre Haute, Ind., prison that currently holds former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich quotes Rudyard Kipling in brief remarks to the media after he's sentenced to 14 years on corruption charges.
An upset Sheldon Sorosky said little to reporters as he leaves the Dirken Federal Building, but said he'll fight Rod Blagojevich's sentence in the appellate court.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald reacts to Rod Blagojevich's 14-year sentence and says he hopes it sends a message to public servants and the populace.
Gov. Pat Quinn -- Rod Blagojevich's former running mate -- assures the public that he believes in ethics and integrity, and touts the reforms he's enacted since assuming office.
Illinois Comptroller and former rival Judy Baar Topinka says Judge James Zagel's 14-year sentence for Rod Blagojevich is a fair one for which she feels no remorse.
Attorney Sam Adam Jr. and his father represented Rod Blagojevich in his first trial and remain dedicated to the former governor.
Connie Wilson says the 14-year sentence Rod Blagojevich received was more than she expected and said it sends a definite message.
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass discusses Rod Blagojevich's 14-year sentence and says the public bears some of the responsibility of the corruption.
Kent School of Law professor Richard Kling discusses where Rod Blagojevich might serve his sentence and what life for the former governor might be like.
Kent School of Law professor Richard Kling discusses the message Judge James Zagel was sending in the courtroom comments he made before handing down a 14 year sentence to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Attorney Tom Glasgow says Blagojevich's sentence is a "sad commentary" of Illinois politics.
Contact Us