Blagojevich Sentenced to 168 Months (14 Years)

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 168 months, 14 years in prison. He will be allowed to voluntarily surrender on Feb. 16. Since there is no parole in the federal system, only good time, he'll do about 12 years.

Blagojevich told the Court this morning he was sorry and accepted that he committed crimes. He asked the court to be merciful. He spoke for 18 minutes. The Judge recessed for 20 minutes and then resumed to impose sentence. The best Twitter coverage hands-down is WCIA Steve, aka Steve Staeger. All of the following comes from him (not in order): [More...]

Judge Zagel said Blago's abuse of the Office of Governor was one of the worst in the U.S. barring the president.

He said there is an issue that has arisen in light of what Blagojevich said in his allocution. The two big questions here are whether Blago accepted responsibility and whether he did it too late.

He indicated he was looking at 15.5 to 19.5 years but was now considering between 12.5 and 15.5 years.

Zagel said the governor was not marched along this criminal path by his staff. He marched them. He ruined many of his staffs' careers..... Every governor...even the worst did good things for people.

This is tragic... but the fault of his lies were his faults alone. The thoughts of his kids should have stopped him from crossing the line in the first place. He sees case after case where good fathers are also bad citizens and wind up in jail.

Zagel tells Blago "whatever good things you did as governor, I am more concerned with when you wanted to use your powers for yourself."

He says he cannot comprehend that Blago seemed to argue the proposition that even if guilty, there was no harm to Illinois.

This wasn't a case where a state employee tries to steal vehicles. There is no monetary loss to the government. The harm is the erosion of public trust in government.

The sentence is 168 months, 14 years. It seems his apology saved him about a year and a half.

< Blagojevich to Learn Fate: Running on Empty | Jerry Sandusky Arrested Again, Additional Charges >
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    A sad story, (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 01:01:46 PM EST
    for the citizens and for Rod and the entire Blagojevich family.   The 14 year sentence was longer than Tony Rezko's (10.5 years) and much longer than Blagojevich's immediate predecessor, Governor George Ryan (6.5 years). My thinking that Blagojevich's sentence would approximate Ryan's sentence was way off, although I did expect the actual sentence to be about ten years, more because of its high profile than for a just sentence, but that was still off the mark. There is no probation and even with time off for good behavior, the time served will be approximately 12 years.  The sentence seems excessive and out of proportion to the crimes--as bad as they were.

    Agreed. I see that we are like minds (none / 0) (#13)
    by Towanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:51:06 PM EST
    on what the judge said (see post below) to explain the length of this sentence.  It is extraordinary -- but, then, so is one state having so many govs sent to prison, isn't it?

    Good point. (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 03:03:02 PM EST
    Seems IL govs are especially resistant to deterrence and this is what it takes to clean things up.

    Forgive us lord... (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 01:22:05 PM EST
    we know not what we do.

    I resent this being done in the name of "The People of the United States of America".  Not in my name jack.

    I resent... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:48:26 PM EST
    the sentence handed down after a prosecution in our names Don.

    If I had my way all federal prosecutions would be done in the name of "Some of The People of the United States Vs. X" because I want no part of our too often cruel and inhumane response to crime...no f*ckin' part of it.  


    I find it very unsavory... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 03:51:42 PM EST
    to use human beings as a "message".

    A telegram is a message...human beings must be  something more precious, even the crooked ones who abuse power.

    Besides, like I always say in these prison nation discussions, it is about us as a people...not the convicted.


    This is not a victimless crime or disease (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:47:49 PM EST
    like drug addition.  

    This is an able educated man being afforded a positon of high public trust and abusing that trust and being found guilty of that beyond a reasonable doubt.

    He sold a US Senate seat.  Sure, corporations buy them, legally, left & right.  Public corruption is rampant enough without letting scofflaw politicians like Blago get off lightly.

    I am surprised by the length of prison term but not unhappy about it.  Having lived in Springfield for a bit there's a definite need in that state to address public corruption.


    There's gotta be a way... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:59:29 PM EST
    to address corruption without trotting out the tired chains and cages.

    We evolved past the stocks in the public square (barely), we need to evolve some more.

    Seems to me voters have the power to address corruption...ceasing to elect crooks is a good start.  


    good and serious questions (none / 0) (#26)
    by sj on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 04:52:46 PM EST
    How do we begin to turn around the social mindset which generally sees convicted prisoners not as human beings, but as objects worthy of scorn and contempt, who are thus subject to whatever we believe that they have coming to them?

    I'm curious Donald. (none / 0) (#40)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:00:31 AM EST
    Who makes up the bulk of incarcerated in Hawaii? Natives or haoles? What is the population of the administration / COs?

    I worry about the karmic debt... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:02:53 PM EST
    we'll have to pay for giving out cage-time like candy on Halloween.

    We're by far the world's main offender in this regard.  I too belive the vast majority of us are good and decent people, so something must be very wrong with our criminal laws and sentencing guidelines.  We should fix it before karma comes a knockin'.

    Forget the monetary cost... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 03:01:19 PM EST
    though that is substantial...I'm talking the cost to our collective soul.

    Imprisonment is a form of torture, we take it waaaaay to lightly.  Granted, hopelessly violent repeat offenders give us no other choice.  But there are far too few good reasons for caging a crooked sob like Blago...it is so unnecessary.  Cages should always be the last resort.


    Agree we, USA, incarerate way too many (none / 0) (#43)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 12:49:02 PM EST
    but how that makes this individual convict any less deserving of his sentence is beyond my comprehension.

    Because the "too many" that we lock up (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by Peter G on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 03:09:02 PM EST
    results from a combination of two factors:  (1) half the folks being sent to jail, at least, there is no good reason to lock up at all, rather than impose some alternative form of punishment/ sentence; and (2) the ones sent to prison are sent and/or kept there for too long.  It's the mathematical consequence of those two factors that produces too many folks behind bars at any given time -- too many going in, and those who go in not coming out soon enough.

    When we were kids in grammar school, (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:08:02 PM EST
    we were taught about the great men of our nation.  The Presidents, the Generals, the brave souls that made our country great.  Who on this forum didn't read the biographies of many of these great men?

    We were taught that the best of us rose to these positions, that we should look to them for role models, for examples of virtue, for the best of us.  We should strive ourselves to become like them, to be also the Best of Us.

    The Best of Us!

    Bernie Madoff crimes hurt many people and causes, but he was just an evil Finance Man.  He was never held up to be the "Best of Us."  He was just a clever money manager.

    We give our politicians great honor, and reward.  We should give them great punishment when they cheat us.

    At least that is the way I see it.

    That is (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by lentinel on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:40:06 PM EST
    why I think it is a blot on American history that Nixon, Bush and Cheney were never prosecuted for their crimes.

    Ford, as we know, pardoned Nixon. A shady deal if ever there were.

    And Obama, for reasons that bring shame upon this country, will not bring Cheney and Bush to justice for what they knowingly did to this country, its Constitution and its citizens.


    Take ALL 6 figure a year Fed & SEC pooh-bahs (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by seabos84 on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 04:28:54 PM EST
    and put them into the same cell blocks.

    let them trade penny stocks with the 25 cents a day they earn stamping license plates! ha ha.

    "They look upon fraud as a greater crime than theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with death; for they allege, that care and vigilance, with a very common understanding, may protect a man's goods from thieves, but honesty have no fence against superior cunning; and since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual intercourse of buying and selling, and dealing upon credit, where fraud is permitted and connived at, or hath no law to punish it, the honest dealer is undone, and the knave gets the advantage."

    And the Lilliputians didn't have Wall Street & Congress & the 2 sould out parties !!


    "Judge Zagel said that his abuse (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by KeysDan on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:14:33 PM EST
    of the office of governor was one of the worst in the United States barring the president."    The judge should have developed or clarified this statement.

    Seriously (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by sj on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:23:31 PM EST
    Because it seems to me that the overreaching in Wisconsin and Florida is much worse and affects far more people.

    As I recall (none / 0) (#34)
    by sj on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 06:47:53 PM EST
    It is also a legal issue (WI and FL).  I have to leave and don't have time to look it up right now, but I do believe that some of tactics of those governors have, in fact, been illegal.

    Towanda can probably speak to that without even relying on a search engine, but not I.  I'll check back in later.



    You bet. Here I am! (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Towanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 07:15:38 PM EST
    to suggest that Wisconsin's Waukesha County -- remember the name Kathy Nicklaus? -- could teach Illinoisans a few pointers about corrupting not just the political process but the democratic process.

    And now we have the violation of Constitutional rights of assembly with the latest edicts from Walker.  Can four or more Illinoisans gather together to protest at their state Capitol in Lincoln land?  Well, lucky them.  Don't try it in Madison, anymore, or you get jailed, fined, and also get the bill for damages.  You say that you didn't damage anything?  Sure, that's what the protesters said last spring, when Walker's minions said that painter's tape -- designed to protect surfaces -- meant a bill of $7.5 million!

    And I haven't seen Illinoisans having to pay the bill for a personal KGB of bodyguards -- private and outsourced, of course -- for Blago anything like those surrounding Walker everywhere he goes.  And his kids, when Wisconsinites have to pay for them to be chauffeured back and forth from Madison to school, 75 miles away, where their teachers hardly can afford a car now.

    And Chicagoans' colorful history of violence ain't got nothin' on the violence going on in the slugfests in the state Capitol -- not by the protesters but within the state Supreme Court itself, to the point that the Capital police were called in to give etiquette lessons to Prosser.

    And now, Illinois is the only state without concealed carry, while Wisconsinites can carry their weaponry right into the Capitol.  Oh, what a good idea, with tempers like Prosser's there.

    And then there's the behavior in the legislature . . . oh, I can't go on.  It's getting worse by the day.  If you haven't been following the ongoing protests, every day for almost a year now, it's easy enough to do so on FB, local media, etc. -- and we wait to see what happens on the 17th, little more than a week away. . . .

    And don't even ask about the perversion of the recall process.  I can't write anymore about this.  I haven't taken my hypertension pills yet.


    o/t re Ali-Mamal (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Towanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:38:01 PM EST
    and without an open thread -- but perhaps relevant in terms of the discussion of "draconian" (or not) sentencing:

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Prosecutors on Wednesday abandoned their 30-year pursuit of the execution of convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther. . . .

    cx: Abu-Jamal, of course! (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Towanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:53:38 PM EST
    That's what I get for getting interrupted while typing and going ahead and hitting send. . . .

    Congratulations to Philadelphia's (5.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Peter G on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 08:56:00 PM EST
    relatively new District Attorney, Seth Williams, for a courageous and correct decision (within the range of decisions available to him).  Although I wasn't present at the trial, I assisted in drafting Abu-Jamal's first petition for certiorari (Supreme Court appeal) some 25 years ago.  So I read a lot of the transcript, and I know first hand how racism permeated the trial and sentencing proceedings.  But right or wrong, Abu-Jamal's conviction has been upheld against all challenges, and he is long totally out of appeals.  The only open issue was, given the overturning of his death sentence by the federal courts and the refusal of the Supreme Court to review that decision further, whether the DA would opt to retry the penalty phase, seeking capital punishment from a new jury, or accept the final outcome of a life-without-parole sentence.  There is no "victory" in this for anyone, but I'm glad it's over.

    Friggin Ouch! (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 01:21:31 AM EST
    Robert Rubin at Citicorp did much more damage to my life and eroded the public trust.  When is he getting 14 years?  When is he even getting 14 days?

    Too long for what he did IMO (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Buckeye on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 10:13:09 AM EST

    Picking up on Peter G's post (none / 0) (#2)
    by Towanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 01:09:41 PM EST
    in the previous thread on this, and having read through all of the tweets linked here, I think that the judge may have been influenced in part by that theory of deterrence.  He made reference to the previous governors having been jailed, so the next one ought to have known better.

    Warning to anyone currently governor of Illinois or considering a campaign to do so:  At this rate, the next one gets 20 years?

    As I wrote in that earlier comment (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Peter G on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:53:22 PM EST
    the severity of the punishment does not increase its deterrent effect.  Deterrence flows from the perceived probability of getting caught and punished (at all).  The kind of narcissistic personalities attracted to high-level political offense perceive nothing wrong in what they do, much less any chance of getting "caught" and punished for it.  Hence, they mostly cannot be deterred.  

    honesty and integrity (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by sj on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 04:50:53 PM EST
    I think those are always a struggle, Donald.  That struggle is part of the human condition - probably the primary one.  The lack thereof, from those who either seek or hold public office is a reflection of that, not a standalone issue.

    I don't purport to have answers, but the metaphor of Darkness and Light didn't come out of nowhere.  I do believe that the only way to dispel the darkness of corruption is to shed light upon it.  That corruption needs darkness, shadows and closed rooms to be able to grow unfettered.  The word transparency has been overused as to become almost meaningless, but it really is the only thing that can overcome corruption.  It must be exposed.  It cannot be glossed over or it only further corrupts.

    Exposing corruption is not the same thing as jailing human beings for year after degrading year.  I am one with kdog on that - using human beings to send a message is mighty unsavory.  Moreover just punishing the perpetrator without removing the structures that allowed him/her to perpetrate serves no good purpose whatsoever.

    But excusing corruption, and letting it slide because something or someone is "too big to fail" or because it's too hard - it's just so wrong.  I cannot support that anymore.  Not that I'm such a paragon.  It is because I must hold myself accountable to myself that I can't support the descent into the Brave New World.  I just can't.

    What Jeralyn does here every day?  Giving us a place of integrity to

    1. talk and learn and craft our own positions, and
    2. promote the defense part of the justice system.

    I have to say that's awesome.

    Agreeing wth SJ, (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by Peter G on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:44:05 PM EST
    it definitely seems to matter whether there is a surrounding culture (or even a tradition) of integrity, or a surrounding culture of cynicism and tolerance for corruption.  Political systems can be designed to minimize the opportunities for individual excesses of power and corruption also.  Gov't in the Sunshine laws, Freedom of Information laws, ombudsmen, advisory boards, a free, independent and aggressive press, etc., etc.

    High level political (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peter G on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:55:09 PM EST
    office (not "offense").  Talk about Freudian slip of the keyboard.

    Ah, thanks; I missed that nuance (none / 0) (#18)
    by Towanda on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 03:05:41 PM EST
    and would have to agree with your psychological analysis.  I've had to deal with a few NPD folks.  I now have learned, if I sense another one, to run lik h*ll.  But when they're the ones running for office?  

    I suppose that the judge, even if faced with this explication, might think that there is a trickle-down effect to deterrence, so that this would warn all potential evildoers or something. I've heard that explanation.  Seems to me that trickle-down would work only if already one a slippery slope.


    Change the people (none / 0) (#35)
    by vicndabx on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 06:48:01 PM EST
    from which the pool of office-holders is drawn.  That is to say - it's impossible, we all want a hookup.

    Crazy (none / 0) (#4)
    by vicndabx on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 01:31:26 PM EST
    and what, now I'm supposed to believe elected officials won't, at some point in he future, look out for themselves (while still doing good for the public)?