Blagojevich gets 14 years in prison for corruption

by
December 8, 2011

By Michael Tarm and Don Babwin, Associated Press

CHICAGO—The Rod Blagojevich who once challenged a prosecutor to face him like a man, the glad-handing politician who took to celebrity TV shows to profess his innocence, was nowhere to be found Wednesday as he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption.

Frowning and pulling nervously at his tie, the disgraced former governor seemed like another person as he stepped up to address the sentencing judge. Bluster once as conspicuous as his famously lavish head of dark hair was wiped out, a victim of his June convictions on charges that included attempting to sell President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.

In a low voice, the two-term Democrat apologized again and again, telling Judge James Zagel he had made “terrible mistakes.”

“I caused it all. I’m not blaming anybody,” Blagojevich said, trying with uncharacteristic humility to avert severe punishment. “I was the governor and I should have known better and I am just so incredibly sorry.”

It was not enough for Zagel, who gave the 54-year-old a sentence close to the 15 to 20 years prosecutors had sought.

“The abuse of the office of governor is more damaging than the abuse of any other office, except the president’s,” he said.

“Whatever good things you did for people as governor, and you did some, I am more concerned with the occasions when you wanted to use your powers … to do things that were only good for yourself,” Zagel said.

Blagojevich slumped forward in his chair — momentarily frozen as the judge pronounced the sentence. Moments later, his wife, Patti, fell into his arms; when he pulled back from their embrace, he brushed tears from her cheek.

“When it is the governor who goes bad,” Zagel said, “the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily repaired.”

Illinois governors have gone bad with stunning frequency. Four of the last nine have been sentenced to prison, including Blagojevich’s predecessor, George Ryan, who remains behind bars.

Blagojevich, who received more than twice as much time as any of the other governors, was also more of a national spectacle — both because of the charges against him, and how he responded to them.

To read more, visit: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2011/12/07/blagojevich_gets_14_years_in_prison_for_corruption/

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