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Blagojevich Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison
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Disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces 14 years in prison. U.S. District Judge James Zagel sentenced Blagojevich Wednesday, according to WBBM-AM.

He was convicted at a second trial on 18 counts, including bribery and attempted extortion, the Chicago Tribune reports. Blagojevich’s misdeeds include trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat, which President Barack Obama once held.

  
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The former governor—who was impeached—could have gotten as many as 20 years in prison. However, Zagel weighed Blagojevich’s admission of guilt. Blagojevich had been pleading his innocence, while accusing federal prosecutors of targeting him.

“I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions and the things I did and I thought I could do. I’m not blaming anybody,” the ex-governor said, as he pleaded for mercy.

With that said, Zagel stressed using the governor’s office for personal gain was wrong. He said Blagojevich’s actions decimated the public confidence in and trust of government.

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“When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily or quickly repaired,” Zagel said, as quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times. “You did that damage.”

Blagojevich refused to answer questions from the gaggle of reporters outside the courtroom.



“This is a time for me to be strong for my children, strong for Patti, and this is also a time for Patti and me to get home so we can explain to our kids, our babies Amy and Annie, what happened, what all this means, and where we go from here,” he said. “So we’re going to keep fighting through this adversity and we’ll see you soon.”

The 54-year-old Blagojevich must report to prison on Feb. 16, according to the Associated Press. Federal rules require he serves at least 12 years—or 85 percent—of his sentence. Zagel also fined Blagojevich $20,000.

He’ll probably serve his sentence in a minimum-security facility outside Illinois, possibly in Indiana or Wisconsin.

In related news, counsel for Blagojevich’s former fundraiser Tony Rezko plan to appeal his corruption conviction and more than 10-year sentence, also according to the Associated Press.

Rezko was sentenced in November for convictions for fraud, money laundering and extorting more than $7 million from companies seeking to do state business during Blagojevich’s term. Legal observers believe Blagojevich’s sentence was determined based on Rezko’s.

The 56-year-old Rezko was a politically-connected Chicago fast-food entrepreneur and real estate developer. Prosecutors claimed he raised over $1 million for Blagojevich. That earned him enough power to control two powerful state boards.

Rezko was also accused of attempting to get payoffs from money management firms, which hoped to invest Teachers Retirement System assets and plotted to get a bribe from a contractor who wanted state approval to build a hospital.

Rezko raised money for both President Barack Obama’s campaigns for an Illinois U.S. Senate seat—the seat which Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell. Obama was implicated in either Blagojevich or Rezko’s cases.

A U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman refused to comment on Tuesday.



 

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