CHICAGO (AP) – Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against criminal charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday, one of the stiffest penalties imposed for corruption in a state with a history of crooked politics.
Blagojevich’s 18 convictions included allegations of trying to leverage his power to appoint someone to President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat to raise campaign cash or land a high-paying job.
“When it is the governor who goes bad the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily repaired,” Judge James Zagel said.
The twice-elected Democrat is now the second former Illinois governor in a row to be sentenced to prison, and the fourth Illinois governor in the last four decades. His Republican predecessor, George Ryan, currently is serving a sentence of 6 1/2 years, also for corruption.
Blagojevich, in a last plea for mercy, tried something he never had before: an apology. After years of insisting he was innocent, he told the judge he’d made “terrible mistakes” and acknowledged that he broke the law.
“I’m here convicted of crimes … ,” Blagojevich said, “and I am accepting of it, I acknowledge it and I of course am unbelievably sorry for it.”
But Zagel gave him little leeway, telling him that he gave him credit for taking responsibility but that his apology didn’t mitigate his crimes.
“Whatever good things you did for people as governor, and you did some, I am more concerned with the occasions when you wanted to use your powers when you wanted to do things that were only good for yourself.”
Read more here. We were all sentenced to at least 4 years of “the Chicago Way” in 2008. Hopefully we can win parole in 2012.