Home > News > Federal Judge Decides to Keep Rod Blagojevich’s Sentence at 14 Years

Federal Judge Decides to Keep Rod Blagojevich’s Sentence at 14 Years

August 10, 2016

A federal judge who was ordered to resentence Rod Blagojevich has decided to keep the former Illinois governor’s original 14-year term on corruption counts.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Tuesday ignored pleas for leniency from Blagojevich’s wife and daughters in making the ruling. Blagojevich’s attorneys had asked for a 5-year reduced term after a federal appeals court. In making his decision Zagel said “these are serious crimes that had an impact on the people of Illinois.”

The judge also said it’s “an unfortunate reality” that Blagojevich’s innocent family members are made to suffer the consequences.

Blagojevich appeared at the sentencing via live video from prison. He looked down briefly when the judge announce his decision but otherwise stared ahead and held a straight face.

Blagojevich says he blames himself for the position his family is in and is working to make amends.   He adds that being in prison since 2012 has taught him humility and given him more compassion for people and the difficulties they face. He said it’s brought him closer to God.

The former Illinois governor thanked the judge for the chance to have his 14-year sentence reconsidered. He ended his statements saying he is a different person now and thinks he’s “become someone who has learned a lot from the mistakes I have made.”

Blagojevich started crying and wiping his eyes when his daughters took the stand at his resentencing hearing.

Blagojevich’s younger daughter, 13-year-old Annie, told the judge Tuesday morning that she almost doesn’t want to grow up because she wants to wait for her father to come home from prison. Annie said she speaks to her father on the phone every night.

Twenty-year-old Amy Blagojevich told the court it’s been difficult to remain close with her father. She said it’s hard to talk with him about private things because strangers are always listening. She said “my dad used to be my best friend” and “he’s never give up on us and we will never give up on him.”

Former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich says she finds a federal judge’s decision to uphold her husband’s 14-year sentence “unusually cruel and heartless and unfair.”

Patti Blagojevich spoke to reporters at Chicago federal court Tuesday afternoon after the judge’s resentencing of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption counts. Patti Blagojevich said she’s “dumbfounded and flabbergasted” at U.S. District Judge James Zagel’s “unwillingness to bestow even the smallest amount of leniency or mercy or kindness.”

She went on to praise the couple’s daughters for making statements in court in support of their father. Patti Blagojevich said despite what their daughters said “the judge clearly made up his mind before it even started.”

Blagojevich was originally sentenced in 2011, following his conviction for trying to exchange an appointment to President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash. An appeals court later struck down five of his 18 convictions and ordered he be resentenced. 

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