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7th Circuit Hears Blagojevich Appeal

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Friday in the appeal of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich's attorneys had to be happy that the panel raised questions about the heart of their defense that the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat was political horse-trading and that prosecutors had unfairly made it into a crime.

Does that bode well for Blago? Impossible to know. Predicting how an appeals court will rule is usually a futile exercise.

While Blago could not attend the hearing, his wife Patti did and addressed the media afterwards: [More...]

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Thursday Afternoon Open Thread

The "Walmart of Weed" is opening in Washington, DC, just blocks from the White House and federal buildings.

Lindsay Lohan is released from supervised probation with praise from the Judge. She still has two more years of unsupervised probation.

14 years for Rod Blagojevich and 10 days for his former Chief of Staff Robert Harris who cooperated with the Government. Harris was Blago's chief of staff for three years, from 2005 through 2008. [More...]

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Friday Night Open Thread

The Bureau of Prisons has posted Rod Blagojevich's release date: May, 2024, 12 years from now.

Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers issued a press release today:

“Typically, a company would cringe at the news of its brand associated in any way with a convicted criminal. However, this is brand complementary. This is a high profile person headed to 14 years of confinement in federal prison who had the opportunity for one more meal as a free man and he chose to eat at Freddy’s,” commented Freddy’s President Bill Simon. “It’s difficult to imagine a better testimonial than that.”

We certainly appreciate Mr. Blagojevich’s choice of restaurants for his last meal,” said COO Scott Redler. “I just wish he would have turned his cup to have the logo facing out while he posed for pictures.”

[More...]

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Rod Blagojevich Reports to Prison

Update: The longest 60 seconds of Blago's life is probably this walk (video)from the car into the prison. Via the Denver Post, here's his real welcome crew.

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The media circus surrounding Rod Blagojevich continued today as he flew commerically to Denver and made his way to FCI Englewood.

Followed by helicopters and television news crews on the road that brought to mind the low speed chase of O.J. Simpson, Blagojevich arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. A mob of travelers took photographs on their cellphones as Blagojevich, his arms raised, stood in a body scanner before heading to down the concourse.
[More..]

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Live Blog: Rod Blagojevich Says Goodbye

Via NBC News Chicago, above is the video of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's goodbye press statement before heading off to prison at FCI Englewood (photo here) in Colorado tomorrow .

Patti is with him. The house is mobbed by media as well as onlookers and supporters. He is incredibly upbeat, Patti looks absolutely devastated.

I intended to live-blog his speech but it was too compelling to type through. I had to just watch. A summary is below: [More...]

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Rod Blagojevich's Last Day of Freedom

Rod Blagojevich begins his 14 year prison sentence on Thursday. At 5 pm CST today, he will hold a press conference at his home. The next morning he will fly to Colorado with his attorney, and surrender at FCI Englewood, a low security level prison outside of Denver.

There will be many saying Blagojevich got his due. I think the sentence is too harsh. He's neither violent nor a safety threat, the conviction ended his public career and ostracized him. He's broke. His daughters will grow up without a father. One day he's here, next day he's not.

FCI Englewood is pretty decent for a prison. But it's still a prison and I doubt anything can prepare him for the lack of privacy, boredom and the strict regimentation he's about to experience.[More...]

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Rod Blagojevich Asks For RDAP Program in Prison

The judge presiding over Rod Blagojevich's criminal case has agreed to recommend the Bureau of Prisons admit him to RDAP -- the residential drug and alcohol program that allows inmates who successfully complete it to cut up to a year off their prison terms.

The news is reporting he asked for drug treatment even though Blago's attorneys gave no reason for the request. Also the reports state Team Blago asked he be placed in the program when he starts his sentence.

First of all, the program is for drug and/or alcohol treatment, so there's no reason to assume the request was based on drug use. [More...]

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Judge Recommends Colorado Prison for Rod Blagojevich

The judge in Rod Blagojevich's case has recommended to the Bureau of Prisons that he be designated to the low-level prison in Englewood, Colorado, outside of Denver. (BOP website for Englewood here.)

Blagojevich isn't eligible for a camp because his sentence exceeds 10 years. So a low security facility is the next best thing. Englewood is pretty decent. Lots of clients want to go there. (Here's the Commissary list.)It also has an adjacent camp which he can get to when he does qualify.

He may even find friends there. Enron's Jeffrey Skilling is serving his sentence at Englewood, and he doesn't get out until 2028.

A judge's recommendations are not binding on the Bureau of Prisons, so it's not a certainty that's where he will go. Bed space may play a role. The judge also extended Blago's surrender date until March 15, to give him more time to sell his home.

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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...]

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Blagojevich to Learn Fate: Running on Empty

Former Illinois Governor will get a chance to speak to the Judge before sentence is pronounced today. After so many years of legal travails, he's got to be running on empty.

I'm hoping the judge will decide on less than 10 years. If he gives him 84 months, it sends a message, is big punishment, will still wreak havoc on his family, but at least, with good time, allow him to return home in time for his younger daughter's high school graduation. I think 5 would be a fairer sentence, but I don't see the judge getting to that level after his comments today.

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Blagojevich Judges Agrees Guidelines Too High

The sentencing hearing of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is underway. The judge has said he won't rule until tomorrow. The best place to follow is Twitter.

This morning the parties debated the sentencing guidelines. The Judge sided with the Government, finding the criminal activity was extensive, Blago had a leadership role and he tried to get $1.5 million for the senate seat. That puts the guidelines at 30 years to life.

"It should be noted that I agree with the government and the defense for that matter that the guideline that is correctly computed for this of 30 years to life is simply not appropriate given the facts of this case."

So the Judge will grant a departure and/or variance from the guidelines, but how much? [More...]

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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
Courthouse.

[More...]

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Tony Rezko Sentenced to 10 1/2 Years

Update: Tony Rezko was sentenced today to 10 1/2 years in prison. Since he's served 45 months, with good time of 54 days a year after the first year, he should be out in about 5 years.

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Antoin (Tony) Rezko finally faces sentencing today in Chicago. Prosecutors are asking for 11 to 15 years. Rezko is asking for time served (53 months.)

Last week I read through the initial 100 pages of sentencing pleadings filed, and summarized the arguments.

On Friday, Rezko filed another response, alleging among other things:[More...]

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Gov't . Seeks 11 to 15 Year Sentence for Tony Rezko

Now that the last of the Chicago corruption cases related to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has concluded (with the conviction of William Cellini last week), it's finally time for Antoin (Tony) Rezko and Rod Blagojevich to learn their fate.

Today the Judge scheduled sentencing for Rod Blagojevich for December 6. The Government has not yet filed its sentencing statement. Tony Rezkco's sentencing is November 22 and the Court recently unsealed Rezko's sentencing position and ordered the Government's to be filed publicly. The Government filed its statement last Thursday, seeking 11 to 15 years for Rezko, which includes a reduction for cooperation and his harsh conditions of confinement. Rezko is seeking time served (44 months.)

I've just read through the 100 pages of pleadings. This post is long, but it contains both sides' arguments and is a lot shorter than the 100 pages filed by the parties. If you're so inclined, read through, and tell us what sentence you think Rezko should or will receive. [More..]

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Interview With Jurors in Rod Blagojevich Retrial

There was no holdout for "not guilty" in the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It's always interesting to get a glimpse of what goes on in the jury deliberation room, and the jurors in Blago's trial are talking.

Instead of secret votes, they used the "fist to five" method:

Secret ballots don’t show where people truly are, Wilson said, so the jurors resorted to what they called the “fist to five” method. If a juror’s fist was closed, Blagojevich was not guilty. If the juror showed five fingers, he was guilty.

“And then you have everything in between,” Wilson explained. “That led us to see openly people’s opinions of where they were in the process.”

The jurors didn't think Blagojevich was credible. They thought he was playing to them. Some of them found him personable, but thought the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming. The downside for Blago taking the stand is that if the Judge thinks he lied during his testimony, he will bump up his sentencing guidelines by two levels. Blago is free on bond until sentencing.

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