Rod Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich received close to the maximum sentence for the corruption charges he was convicted on by a Federal Jury early this year:

Disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison after he made a final plea for leniency, acknowledging his guilt and saying, “I am unbelievably sorry.”

“I believe he did, in fact, accept [responsibility],” U.S. District Judge James Zagel said in announcing how long Blagojevich should spend in prison after being convicted of 18 corruption charges that included attempting to sell or trade an appointment to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the election of President Barack Obama.

But the judge said the entire state suffered from his actions.

“When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily or quickly repaired,” Zagel said. “You did that damage.”

Blagojevich slightly sunk his head after the sentence was read. Wife Patti put her hand up to her mouth, but did not cry, as she has done in previous hearings. Blagojevich walked up to her and asked, “You OK? Stay strong.”

Blagojevich will have to surrender Feb. 15. Under federal sentencing rules, Blagojevich will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence, or just under 12 years in prison, at a minimum. The ex-governor turns 55 on Saturday.

In deciding the sentence, the judge said he had given credit to Blagojevich for accepting responsibility for his crimes in remarks made Wednesday morning.

“It’s clear he is not blaming” the people around him, said Zagel, adding that he also gave Blagojevich credit for his work on behalf of children while governor in creating the state’s All Kids health-care program.

Referring to comments from Blagojevich’s lawyers in asking for a sentence of no more than 3½ years, Zagel said: “I don’t doubt his devotion to children, but this is not … exceptional, in my own experience. I see case after case where good fathers are bad citizens. There is no question that the innocent children of felons suffer. This is tragic, but, as he admits, the fault of this lies with the defendant alone. Now, it is too late.

“If it is any consolation to his children, he does not stand convicted of being a bad father.”

But Zagel noted the damage caused by Blagojevich “is not measured in the value of money and property. The harm is the erosion of the public trust in government; [people’s] confidence in and trust in government.”

A Chicago television station reports that Blagojevich will be required to report to the Bureau of Prisons on February 16, 2012, meaning that he’ll be required to stay into prison until at least 2024. The fate of the famed Blagojevich pompadour remains unknown.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Brett says:

    It looks like he can join his predecessor in prison, then. Maybe they could put them in the same cell!

  2. PD Shaw says:

    He was eligible for 30 yrs to life; the feds asked for 15-20 years. A prominent local defense attorney complained that the feds have never asked for less than the maximum on his cases. But I think the flip-side was the Republican predecessor got 6 1/2 years and there was arguably a body count assoicated with his corruption. The best retort I’ve heard is that Blago was worse because the prior conviction should have given him notice that the rules had changed in Illinois.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    FWIW/ Its never seemed right that your sentence depends upon you admitting the crime you were convicted of, which you have a Constitutional right to appeal from.

  4. legion says:

    On the radio this morning, they said one of the defense’s arguments for a lighter sentence was that Blago didn’t actually make money off of his corruption. I find that particularly galling and, were I the judge, would lead me to believe that he really _doesn’t_ grasp what he did or accept responsibility for it. It suggests to me that the only thing Blago understands is money; not the responsibility of his office, or the significant damage to society he did… if no money changed hands, then no harm done, right? Wrong. This is a marvelous sentence, and I hope he rots, and I hope it scares a few other politicos straight.

  5. Fiona says:

    Ah Blago–maintaining the fine Illinois gubernatorial tradition of landing in jail. What is he–the fourth Illinois governor out of the previous eight to wind up in prison? I too hope his sentence does serve as an example for other corrupt pols.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Remember back when Republicans were claiming this would all lead somehow to Obama? Ah, good times.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    As someone from Chicago, it’s been amusing (and horrifying) to watch the egotistical train-wreck that is Rod Blagojevich. He managed, in the end, to piss off a lot of people, including those in the local legal profession. As one of his earlier attorneys said: “I don’t expect a client to always take my advice. I do, however, expect him to at least listen to it.”

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Blago is an idiot even by Chicago standards. Then to add insult to injury he doesn’t have any class. At least guys like Daley, Sr. and Edwin Edwards commanded respect.

  9. I wonder what political party he belonged to? It doesn’t say in the article. Probably a Republican; they’re always super corrupt.

  10. This is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard, ATC.

    Anyone who knows who Rod Blagjevich is knows what political party he belongs to. I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about people who listen to Sean Hannity.

  11. PD Shaw says:

    Meanwhile, A Conservative Teacher, we await the next conviction/sentencing in the ongoing investigatoin, William Cellini, Republican power broker.