Blagojevich Sentencing Hearing Delayed
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Updated 09/26/11 – 12:55 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing – originally set for next week – has been delayed indefinitely.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel did not provide a reason for the delay in issuing an order on Monday postponing the Oct. 6 sentencing date indefinitely.
The delay was no surprise, as Zagel is slated to begin the trial of Springfield power broker William Cellini on Oct. 3 and was unlikely to take a break in that trial to hold Blagojevich’s sentencing.
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Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky said Blagojevich was prepared for the delay and he expects the sentencing will be rescheduled for soon after the Cellini trial, likely in late October or early November.
Cellini, a former fundraiser for Blagojevich, is accused of conspiring with others to extort a campaign contribution for Blagojevich from a Hollywood film producer.
Meantime, Zagel also denied all of Blagojevich’s post-trial motions, including a motion seeking another trial and a motion seeking to have his convictions overturned.
Sorosky said he was disappointed with that ruling.
“We were hoping Judge Zagel would sustain some of our positions and grant us a new trial,” Sorosky said.
At his retrial this summer, Blagojevich, 54, was convicted on 17 various corruption counts, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in late 2008. At his first trial last year, jurors deadlocked on all but one count, finding Blagojevich guilty of lying to the FBI.
After the retrial, defense attorneys filed a 158-page motion for a new trial, criticizing Zagel for his repeated rulings against Blagojevich, saying the judge placed “a thumb on the scale of justice.”
In the motion, defense attorneys cited a litany of rulings that they claimed showed the judge was biased and helped prosecutors prevent the defense from presenting an effective case.
They also claimed that Blagojevich only decided to testify at his retrial because he believed he would be allowed to testify that he believed his actions were legal and that none of his advisers told him differently. But they said the “pulled the rug out from under Blagojevich” once he took the stand by barring such testimony.
Blagojevich faces a maximum of 305 years behind bars if he were to receive consecutive sentences for each individual count, but legal experts have said it is likely he’ll be sentenced to somewhere between 6 and 15 years.
Although prosecutors have yet to make a recommendation on Blagojevich’s sentence, they have calculated that he could face 30 years to life in prison.