Updated 10/18/11 – 3:59 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Is Facebook the new ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card? Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s family is hoping it will help them keep the former governor from getting the book thrown at him when he is sentenced for his corruption convictions.
As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, Blagojevich has placed a posting on Facebook asking people to send letters to U.S. District Judge James Zagel, noting the positive things the former governor did while in office.
A post on the page reads: “We have been getting so many requests from people who would like to help us by writing a letter to the judge for sentencing that I would like to post the email of one of our attorneys Aaron Goldstein: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“He would be able to help you with how to get the letter to the right place. Thank you to all of you who have supported us during this hard time. Rod and Patti and Amy and Annie.”
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Asked what kind of response he has gotten, Goldstein said he has seen “a very positive response. I mean, people are writing in and they’re explaining their stories and explaining how much they support Rod and wanting the best for him.”
Goldstein said the defense team has been collecting letters of support ever since the June verdict, when Blagojevich was convicted of 17 corruption charges.
“It’s definitely a whole lot more than dozens. I mean, we’re in the neighborhood of a hundred to hundreds.”
Goldstein said the Facebook posting was a way to handle all the requests for help and support.
Carlos Cortes wrote “You have contributed more to Illinois than any governor ever will, and thank you for that. If it wasn’t for the educational programs you implemented, I wouldn’t be attending an Ivy League.”
“You helped so many senior citizens,” commented Jim Elvis, “anything we can do to help you consider it done.”
But there’s a Facebook flipside, too.
Andy Riley wrote, “I would love to send a letter to the judge asking for them to double the normal sentence.”
And Mary Ward commented she’d write the judge to “ask that you are sent to prison where you belong.”
“We have gotten, not the most flattering ones, but the overall majority … I mean, we’re talking 95 plus percent of people are very supportive,” Goldstein said.
CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller said, “I have to tell you, I think letters to a judge are really significant and do make a difference.”
But Miller said notes from people who actually know Blagojevich personally would mean more.
“I think they are far less significant when it’s just coming from people that may have supported you politically, or just the general public,” Miller said.
The 54-year-old Blagojevich could face more than a decade in prison for his conviction on various corruption charges in June.
He was originally set to be sentenced earlier this month, but that date was postponed indefinitely while Zagel hears the trial of the last defendant tied to the Blagojevich investigation — Springfield businessman William Cellini, who is accused of conspiring to shake down a Hollywood movie producer for a $1.5 million campaign contribution to Blagojevich.