Dec 07 2011

Chicago Tribune: Judge gives Blagojevich 14 years

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined $20,000 for what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald famously referred to as a criminal corruption crime spree at the time of Blagojevich’s arrest three years ago.

Patti Blagojevich buried her head in her husband’s shoulder and the two embraced. He pulled back to brush tears off her cheek and then rubbed her shoulders.

As he left the courthouse, Blagojevich told reporters “we’re going to keep fighting on through this adversity. . .This is a time to be strong.”

He began his remarks by quoting a line from a Rudyard Kipling poem: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster.”

Standing next to a teary-eyed Patti, Blagojevich said they had to get home “to their babies” and explain “what all this means.”

Blagojevich will have to serve just under 12 years under federal rules that say defendants must complete 85 percent of their sentence. Blagojevich doesn’t have to report to federal prison until Feb. 16.

The sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge James Zagel is more than double the prison term given in 2006 to former Gov. George Ryan, who is serving a 6 ½-year sentence in a federal prison in Terre Haute.

Before pronouncing sentence, Zagel told Blagojevich he had abused the public trust. “When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily repaired,” Zagel said.

The judge said Blagojevich was clearly responsible for his crimes, not his underlings as the former governor had argued. “He marched them and ruined a few of their careers and more than that in the process,” the judge said.

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