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Feds: Rod Blagojevich Could Get 30 Years To Life In Prison

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Rod Blagojevich

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 09/15/11 10:14 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Prosecutors are estimating that convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich could get 30 years to life in prison.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, such sentences are usually reserved for convicted murderers. In this case, the 30 years to life range is only a calculation; the actual recommendation put forth by prosecutors could be somewhat different.

In a statement Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s office emphasized the difference between a calculation and a recommendation.

“The government has not recommended a sentence publicly or privately, not withstanding news reports to the contrary,” said the statement from U.S. Attorney’s office spokesman Randall Samborn. “The government has submitted a calculation of the advisory sentencing guidelines, as it is required to do in all cases.”

Samborn would not comment on the specific calculations reported by the Sun-Times.

Still, prosecutors are not pulling their proverbial punches.

Blagojevich, 54, who is now scheduled to be sentenced next month, was convicted in June on 17 counts of corruption, including charges that he schemed to sell President Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich was also convicted last year of one count of making false statements to the FBI.

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The sentencing range calculation was suggested by prosecutors in a private submission to the court.

Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky tells WBBM Newsradio he has heard the reports of the prosecutors’ calculcations.

“This submission is very cruel and draconian,” he said.

Defense attorneys say they will recommend little prison time, based on the fact that Blagojevich did not take any money in the crimes for which he was convicted.

“You have to remember, this is a man who did not make a dime on this whole deal, nor did he shake anyone down, and he did whatever he was supposedly supposed to do in return for what the government said he wanted money for, and he did this without getting any of the money,” Sorosky said.

Typically, judges stay within a recommended sentencing guideline range.

But the range expected to be put forth by prosecutors is not set in stone. Judges rely heavily on recommendations put together by the U.S. Probation Department.

Zagel will have wide discretion over the former governor’s prison term, as sentencing guidelines for federal judges are advisory.

In the prosecution’s calculations, Blagojevich faces more time because he took the witness stand and allegedly lied and obstructed justice. As governor, he was also leader of an enterprise, they will argue.

The U.S. Attorney’s office had no comment.

On Thursday morning, voters seemed to be divided on the issue.

“It’s a little steep,” said James Stokes of Chicago. “I mean, I know the charges against him, but I don’t think it takes all that. I think maybe 10 years, max. It’s a little steep. I mean, look at the other politicians who did the same thing. That’s really a little steep. I think they’re reaching.”

But Robert Burriss of Monee did not agree.

“I think so, yes, that if politicians are going to be like that, they all should be prosecuted. They work with the people and they let the people down, they should be getting the maximum,” Burriss said.

Court filings involving Blagojevich’s sentencing are expected on Friday.

Blagojevich’s sentencing has been set for Oct. 6, although it may be delayed because the date convicts with the trial of Springfield power broker William Cellini, which Zagel is also hearing.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

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