Rod Blagojevich Sentencing Tuesday

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich faces sentencing tomorrow morning. The Government is seeking a 15 to 20 year sentence. In a filing today, prosecutors argued he has shown no remorse and continues to blame others for his predicament. From their filing, available on PACER:

Blagojevich repeatedly committed serious criminal acts that have done enormous damage to public confidence in Illinois government. He has refused to accept any responsibility for his criminal conduct, continues to blame others for his criminal misdeeds, and has no mitigating factors beyond those frequently found in this


Prosecutors argue he was more culpable than Tony Rezko:

When the facts are considered, Rezko’s are significantly more mitigating and Blagojevich’s criminal conduct is substantially worse than the criminal conduct for which Rezko received a ten and a half-year sentence.

Blago and Rezko are apples and oranges. Rezko wasn't a politician. And unlike Rezko, Blago didn't make millions from criminal activity.

Blagojevich filed a 72 page sentencing memorandum. He argues he obtained no financial benefit, there was no financial harm to the public from the counts of conviction, he had no intent to break the law, he relied on advice of others, and he has a record of value-based legislative initiatives. He also says his family needs him and his co-conspirators got much lesser sentences than the Government is seeking for him.

Blago also objects to the pre-sentence report, particularly the enhancement for a leadership role, and says his correct guideline range is 41 to 51 months.

The Government says Rezko's payments to Patti Blagojevich for a faux job are a financial benefit to Rezko. That's a stretch.

Nor should Blago have to show remorse if he believes he's innocent. He still has the right to an appeal. He isn't suggesting he should receive a reduction for acceptance of responsibility.

Blago says his understanding of the law was that if there is no explicit quid pro quo between governmental action and benefit, there is no illegality.

Blago says he is an intrinsically good, kind, and decent man. He's spent 7 years under investigation and enduring two criminal trials and an impeachment. His mental and physical health have suffered.

The Blagojevich family is broke. They have no more savings, must sell their family home, and Rod will lose his pension. He's gone from public office, his reputation is ruined.

He points out that he shouldn't be sentenced based on Illinois corrupt politics in their entirety, just what he was convicted of, which occurred in 2008. He should be sentenced as "an individual, not a symbol."

I think 15 to 20 years is way too much time for Blagojevich. He's ruined. Rotting in a jail cell with no hope for the future is not in anyone's best interest. The Government has taken its pound of flesh from Blago many times over. He's out of office.

The sentencing guidelines are only the starting point. The judge should impose, as required by law, a sentence that is sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the goals of sentencing. I doubt tomorrow will be a good day for Blago, and it will be devastating for his wife and daughters, but I'm sending good thoughts their way regardless.

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    What's out of whack (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Peter G on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 05:02:02 PM EST
    ... are the federal sentencing guidelines, that would suggest a 15-year sentence as "normal" for a non-violent crime with no direct victims.  Why wouldn't a sentence in the 4-to-6-year range deter and punish just as well, without wasting (non-existent) public resources on endless warehousing of an ever-increasing (and shocking) percentage of our population? Happily, the federal guidelines are only "advisory," so even if the judge concludes that the government's calculation is "correct" he can still lawfully give a much lower sentence for any of a dozen reasons.  And if the guidelines are properly calculated as the defense argues (I haven't tried to figure it out myself), then of course a sentence in the five year range is likely.  "Enormous damage to public confidence in [the integrity of] Illinois government"? When was such confidence last seen (or warranted)? Who's kidding whom?

    A line about Illinois political integrity (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Towanda on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 09:08:38 PM EST
    may have worked a couple of jailed governors ago, huh?

    Perhaps Blago ought to hailed, rather than jailed, for his fine work in not doing enormous damage to  the great traditions of the Chicago Way.:-)


    Yes, that "political integrity" left (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 11:26:45 AM EST
    the gate with one of the previously jailed Illinois governors: Otto Kerner, who was convicted of bribery. Marge Everett, an owner of Chicago area racetracks bribed the then Governor Kerner to gain choice racing dates and two expressway exits for her Arlington Park racetrack.

    The bribe was in the form of stock and came to light when Ms. Everett deducted the value of the stock on her federal income tax return as an ordinary and necessary business expense.

    Kerner, then a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the seventh circuit, upon conviction, resigned his judgeship and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.  (post-script: Kerner was released early owing to terminal cancer and died in 1976. Kerner was well-educated (Brown, Oxford, Northwestern Law), a WWII military hero awarded the Bronze Star and Soldiers Medal,  and had long political ties, his wife was the daughter of Anton Cermak, mayor of Chicago and Cook County machine boss , who was killed in Mami, in an  assassination attempt in 1933 on president-elect FDR, although there is some consideration given to the possibility that the bullet was really intended for Cermak).   Kerner was a liberal and filed  the "Kerner Report" on the 1968 Democratic Convention protestors, calling it a  "police riot". The then Mayor Richard J. Daley did not appreciate that report. )


    I admit not having (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Edger on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 05:12:31 PM EST
    paid much attention at all to the whole Blago saga, but I do sort of feel that he shouldn't do nearly as much time as people like Bush or Cheney, or a few politicians I can think of, should do.

    He was corrupt, but I don't know that he tortured anyone or killed upwards of a million people.

    He's what? 55 years old now? 15-20 years would effectively be a life sentence or close to it, no?

    Close to it (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 06:38:21 PM EST
    considering there's no parole and federal prisoners do 85% of their sentences.

    Sadly, it's actually over 87% rather than 85% (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Peter G on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 09:24:40 PM EST
    of the sentence that a federal prisoner must serve, even with good conduct, thanks to this stupid Supreme Court decision a couple of years ago, which you can also read about here.

    That I didn't know... thanks (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 06:46:01 PM EST
    This just seems so wrong. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 05:37:46 AM EST
    A senior Senator publicly declares (regarding the banks), "they own this place," and the public yawns. Nobody goes to jail.

    Nancy Pelosi  makes hundreds of thousands of dollars overnight, front running stock prices, using non-public, inside information that her position in Congress makes her privy to; Nobody goes to jail.

    There are some 15,000 lobbyists in Washington, more than thirty for each Senator and Congressman, bribing and buying our government 24/7.......and nobody goes to jail.

    Blago's "crimes" are so minor compared to what our "representatives" in Congress engage in every day that I can't help but feel pity for him, and especially, his family, for what will probably be a sadistically severe sentence.

    Just exactly what is the "message" prosecutors want to send?

    Sending a.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 08:33:34 AM EST
    "promote me" message to their superiors...justice sure ain't got nuthin' to do with it.

    Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich (none / 0) (#1)
    by KeysDan on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 04:04:05 PM EST
    are apples and oranges in terms of their crimes.  In my view,  the sentence for Rezko was about right (10.5 years),  Perhaps, closer to apples and apples would be Blagojevich and George Ryan.  Both Illinois governors convicted of federal crimes (Ryan's stemming from early driver's license scandals while Illinois Secretary of State).  Both made good contributions to state government but were corrupt and/or corrupted.  George Ryan (now age 77) was disgraced and sentenced to 6.5 years; Blagojevich (now age 54) was impeached from office and a sentence of similar duration (6.5 years)  would seem just.

    I am not much for "sending a message" with sentencing--the sentencing should just fit the crime with adjustments for mitigating circumstances that may be shown. However, the high profile of the case is likely to bring Blagojevich a longer sentence--closer to Rezko's.

    It ought to be obvious by now that (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 09:55:20 AM EST
    whatever messages these sentences are supposed to be sending as a deterrent to the commission of future crimes are failing.  

    Let's face it, most people who do commit crimes probably never believe they will be caught, or don't believe they're doing anything wrong to begin with; these kinds of messages are lost on them.

    But it sure makes a nice addition to prosecutorial resumés, doesn't it?


    One Will Only Attempt... (none / 0) (#17)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Dec 06, 2011 at 12:00:45 PM EST
     ...something they think they can get away with.

    True of anything in life.

    I highly doubt there are many criminals in jail who didn't realize what they were doing was a crime.

    I think with the White Collar types, the ego comes into play, especially in this case with the limited information I have read.  These guys think they are above the law or that they will be able to talk their way out of it.

    Blago is proof the deterrents don't work, how many Bush era politicians were caught and locked up, enough that if deterrents worked he would still be governor.


    Agree with the 'sending a message' (none / 0) (#5)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 06:43:18 PM EST
    nonsense. If messages could be sent, who would be doing the same things that folks get convicted of doing?

    Sentencing should be based not on some metric, but on the case itself.

    Here's a question, though... If someone thinks they are innocent, or 'not guilty' to use the courtroom plea, why do they have to show penitence when they are convicted?


    Because the best liar won, jeff. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 07:14:08 PM EST
    Conviction is the message. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by observed on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 10:49:36 PM EST
    Using the sentence to "send a message", based on the notoriety of the criminal, sends the wrong message.