Blagojevich: ‘I Am Unbelievably Sorry’

UPDATED 12/07/11 11:33 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time since he was arrested three years ago, deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich was thoroughly apologetic and admitted to making “terrible mistakes,” as pleaded for mercy before his sentencing Wednesday.

“I’m here convicted of crimes. The jury decided that I was guilty, and I am accepting of it, and I acknowledge it, and I am unbelievably sorry for it,” he said.

He admitted that he had made “terrible mistakes,” and said he wanted to “apologize to the people of the State of Illinois.”

But he still seemed to claim ignorance about the fact that his actions were illegal, saying, “I never set out to break the law; I never set out to cross lines.”

“I thought they were permissible and I was mistaken and the jury convicted me and they convicted me because those were my actions,” he said.

He also apologized for “fighting this case in the media” and “challenging the prosecutors in public.”

Blagojevich also talked about his daughters, Amy and Annie, and how his ordeal has affected them.

One of the hardest tasks, Blagojevich said, was to talk with the girls about “how we as a family would go forward” after the jury found him guilty on 18 counts.

“Both of my children were of course upset. Our younger daughter Annie, who’s 8, was crying,” he said.

He said daughter Annie, 15, didn’t want Blagojevich to apologize and asked him to go outside and tell the media the verdict was wrong.

But that was not an option, Blagojevich said.

“The fight was over, that it was time to accept this and that I needed to accept this,” he said. “The jury had decided the decision. They had decided it, and they had decided that I committed crimes.”
He said if he hadn’t gone into politics and if he’d “been different,” the chain of events that led to his conviction wouldn’t have happened. But now it’s too late.

“My life is ruined, at least now, my life is in ruins. My political career is over. I can’t be a lawyer anymore. We can’t afford the home that we live in; we’re trying to sell it,” he said.

Blagojevich conceded he had brought his problems on himself.

“I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions and words and things that I thought I could do,” he said. “I realize I was mistaken. I realize that the things I thought were permissible, the jury made it abundantly clear that they were not.”

“I accept the people’s verdict, judge,” he continued. “They found me guilty and all I can say is I never wanted to hurt anyone, most of all Children’s Memorial Hospital.”

When the emotional Blagojevich finished, he came right to his wife, Patti, and kissed her on the forehead.

Earlier when court began, federal prosecutors began their argument for a tough sentence for Blagojevich by countering the defense’s claims that Blagojevich’s crimes did not cause any real harm and that he did not profit from those crimes.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar argued that Blagojevich held up additional state funding for pediatric hospitals while he was seeking a campaign contribution from the head of Children’s Memorial Hospital.

“The defendant in this case held up funding to every children’s hospital in this state for 30 days … that was a very real harm,” Schar said. He also noted that Blagojevich only released the funding for the hospitals after his arrest.

Schar also pointed to Blagojevich’s conviction for trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

“They argue no harm and yet instead of choosing a United States Senator on the merits of each candidate,” Schar said Blagojevich was only interested in how candidates for the seat “could benefit him.”

“They completely ignore the fact that the defendant’s criminal activity corrupted the decision making process of the state of Illinois,” Schar added. “His criminal activity, without doubt, has further eroded the public’s trust in government and in government officials.”

Schar also attacked the defense’s contention that Blagojevich did not perjure himself when he testified at the second trial.

“He lied repeatedly, concretely … and he lied on every episode in which he was questioned,” Schar said.

Pointing specifically to Blagojevich’s testimony about the Senate seat allegations, Schar said the evidence clearly showed the former governor lied when he said his Senate seat decision was not tied to the possibility of being appointed to a Cabinet post or running a multi-million dollar non-profit.

“He is incredibly manipulative and he knows how to be. To his credit, he’s clever about it,” Schar said. “He picks out one person or a group of 12 sitting in a jury box … and he says what he thinks they want to hear.”

Schar noted that one of the jurors at the second trial was originally from Boston, another was a librarian and another worked at a Greek restaurant and Blagojevich tried to appeal to each juror in his testimony.

“Out of nowhere, we heard about how he loved the city of Boston,” Schar said. He also noted that Blagojevich talked about his own library at home and about stopping at a Greek restaurant for coffee.

“He had it all set out because he had an audience he wanted to get to and he wanted to manipulate that audience to help himself,” Schar said.

Schar wrapped up his brief argument by noting that Blagojevich committed several corrupt acts, even though his predecessor as governor, George Ryan, had been charged and convicted for corruption himself.

“He committed his crimes on the heels of the conviction of another governor, knowing full well … the damage Ryan’s rimes had done,” Schar said.

“The defendant was corrupt. He was corrupt the day he took the oath of office. He was corrupt until the day he was arrested,” he added. “He lied to federal agents in an attempt to hide his corruption and continue his corrupt ways.

Even though defense attorneys repeatedly said on the first day of the sentencing hearing that they acknowledge Blagojevich has committed crimes, Schar said Blagojevicch has never shown any remorse or accepted any personal responsibility for his actions. Rather, Schar argued, the only acceptance the defense appears to have shown is that a jury found him guilty.

“When the defendant was finally caught, his reaction … was not to show any remorse … or accept any responsibility for his own actions,” Schar said. “I mean a true acceptance that he committed these crimes and that he understood they were wrong,”

Schar also said that Blagojevich repeatedly has tried “to blame anyone and everyone but himself.”

The prosecution said Zagel should send a message that “The people have had enough. They have had enough of this defendant and they have had enough of those who are corrupt like him.”

“Tell this defendant and others that the consequences for corruption are higher now than they have ever been before,” Schar added. “You judge and you alone are the only one who could send that message. A sentence of 15 to 20 years is appropriate in this case.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Todd Feurer, CBS 2 Web Producer

  • Jim Hamilton

    So what none of the criminals in prison get to see their children grow and the Illinois world is so cruel mostly because he was governor over it and made it this way.

    Support HB 148 The Right To Carry

  • Nerijus Jukonis

    It is sad to see such injustice. Governor clearly stepped on some wealthy peoples toes here who have more power than our justice system. They want him in jail period. If such highly respected and ranked politician can be locked up in jail just for talking and or intending to do something soon there may be against the law to think or speak. This is the biggest “bull…” one person can not even commit crime as stated here and why he is made the only escape goat…? Maybe because someone wants him in jail and out of power. This is what happens … I am experiencing same thing just on much lower level. Our justice is for sale… not presidents senate seat.

  • Chiqueta Andwhothefkru Harris-Randle

    :-{ IDK…kinda feel sorry 4 him…y is it that they have 2 make an example out of him when ALLLLLL of these other CROOKED politicians r gettin’ away scott free…and the #1 ringleader was allowed 2 retire…smmfh sorry Blago but i would’ve had 2 take ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL them mofos down with me & i know the code n the hood is “not snitchin” but they didnt’ have your back…guess pookie gonna have his back now DON’T drop the soap haaaaaaaaaa ♥ ta ta 4 now SMOOCHEZ

  • Chuck

    For the circus he put on after the allegations came out and his subsequent conviction on the one count in the first trial, then later the continued circus that has gone on since the second trial, including the defiance of court orders, he is not remorseful whatsoever, in spite of what he may tell the judge today. Throw the book at him with the steepest sentence the law allows.

  • S. J. Bailey

    This guy (former governor of Illinois) felt that he was always above the law. Not today …. I feel that he should get 15 years minimum time in jail. How he got elected and then relected is beyond me. He is a sweet talker and has destroyed the budget in Illinois for a long time. We the people will be paying this debt for many decades. He should have thought about his family before he did all of his misdeeds. So long BLAGO!

  • Sue Biehl Selander

    Throw the book at him !!!! He is not the only person with kids. Does and did anyone care about other people in jail that has kids??? NO

  • M E White

    The Judge should have mercy on this man now that he is sorry. The law condems, but there is still room for forgiveness. Giving him five years is enough time.

    • Chuck

      Hate to disagree with you – he is not sorry – he is just trying to get his sentence reduced – what he said today should not change anything – why should we believe he is sorry now? Answer: we shouldn’t, we should and the judge should as well, read through this for what it is – plain and simple – ANOTHER lie!

      • KE


    • KE

      I think you need to read over EXACTLY what he was sorry for.. he was sorry for the jury’s decision to find him guilty. He admitted only to “making mistakes”… and he LIED when he said tht he did noti ntend to hurt anybody.. he knew EXACTLY what he was doing..and who he was hurting.. but he did not care. Just because a man SAYS that he is sorry… does not mean that he IS sorry

      • Nerijus Jukonis

        Would be nice to know how did he hurt you personally… there are so many hurt people in America and many of them just try to kiss ass of any media garbage thinking they will get a chance to get recognized. Shame on you. Man did nothing against the law and got thrown in Jail. Thousands in Chicago use worse language than… no one was being charged with murder when they said “I’ll kill you”… or any other phrase without actual intent of doing so. 14 years in jail just for talking … give me a break. Visit

  • kiddos2

    If this judge gives him a high sentence, then there should be stricter laws enacted and ENFORCED for ALL elected officials who do the same thing everyday. Don’t just choose to punish one or two politicians, while the others keep doing the same thing.
    Seriously, the rest of the Illinois politicians will laugh and keep going the way they are, breaking the law everyday. If it is wrong for one to do, it is wrong for all of them. Don’t single one out if they aren’t prepared to crack down on all of them. Corruption is widespread in the State of Illinois. Be fair.

  • Joe Lake

    Blago: “Sock It To Me.” Joe Lake, Chicago

  • Jim

    If Blago gets 15 – 20 years then Quinn will be serving a life term!! I would take Blago back in a heartbeat if we could get rid of Mr. “I will give you a $85k/yr job for your vote” Quinn!

  • marilyn

    One thing that might play into the judge’s sentencing is the mood of the population in our country right now. Voters are fed up with all politicians and Blogojevich is a prime example of what they’re fed up about. They get away with murder,

  • Blago: Big House Bound « NotionsCapital

    […] his sentencing hearing,convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich told the judge he was “unbelievably sorry” for his crimes. Judge James Zagel must have found this remorse “unbelievable,” too. […]

  • marilyn

    One thing is certainly true for me about this statement…that he says he is sorry is “unbelievable” to me.

  • Nerijus Jukonis

    He was convicted on so many counts…. but besides improving Illinois healthcare, making tollway system better and many more things how can someone say that Governor was more corrupt or crooked than any other Corporate CEO or politician.
    When big corporations threatened to leave Illinois they got what they wanted … but never were charged with racketeering…
    And what did you get?
    It hurts me driving on 294 and seeing enormously high tollway rate sign instead of Rod Blagojevich sign.
    I guess you people like higher taxes and low wage jobs…hope you can contribute to balanced budged with your dead brain cells.

    To see false charges by Town of Porter Police, Indiana visit

    Pictures prove thousand words… how about a video.

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