Rod Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison

UPDATED 12/07/11 3:35 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday, after apologizing for making “terrible mistakes,” capping a nearly three-year saga for Illinois.

The sentence is the longest ever handed down to a convicted Illinois governor and one of the longest for any political corruption case in state history.

“His abuse of the office of governor is more damaging than the abuse of any other office in the United States except president,” U.S. District Judge James Zagel said in announcing Blagojevich’s sentence for 18 corruption charges, including his attempt to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

“When a state senator takes a bribe, that’s one person out of 59. … You are not to be compared with those who hold lesser positions in government. You, as a governor are seen to control all of them, though I concede in practice you don’t,” Zagel added. “When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily or quickly repaired.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports from the courthouse

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser has reaction from the public

After the sentence was announced Blagojevich mouthed “don’t worry” to his wife, Patti, and touched her hand before walking up to the bench, as the judge ordered him to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 16.

The judge also imposed fines and penalties totaling nearly $22,000.

Blagojevich addressed reporters briefly in the Dirksen Federal Building lobby after the sentencing. He solemnly quoted the poet Rudyard Kipling as he reacted to the sentence.

“Rudyard Kipling, in his poem, ‘If,’ among the things he wrote is, ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors the same,’ ” he said. “For Patti and I, and especially me, this is a time to be strong. This is a time to fight through adversity. This is a time for me to be strong for my children; to be strong for Patti.”


135199592 Rod Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison

Patti Blagojevich, wife of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, sheds a tear as she listens to him address the media after he was sentenced to 14 years in prison at the Dirksen Federal building. (Credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

He said his next mission is to go home with his wife and explain to his daughters, Amy, 15, and Annie, 8, what will happen from here.

“This is a time for me to be strong for my children, strong for Patti,” he said. “We’re going to keep fighting on through this adversity. See you soon.”

Outside the courthouse, defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky said there are plans to appeal the sentence “for all the reasons that we said in our post-trial motion.” He had no further comment.

Blagojevich did not speak again when he returned to his Ravenswood Manor home, although he did take the time to shake hands with supporters and autograph a book.

Moments later, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who led the prosecution against Blagojevich, also spoke to reporters after the sentencing. He also led the prosecution of convicted former Gov. George Ryan, and he lamented the fact that Illinois has now sent two consecutive governors to prison.

“In any state, it would be awful if two governors were convicted in a century, and yet we’ve seen it twice in five years,” Fitzgerald said.

He said the 14-year sentence for Blagojevich “sends a strong message that the public has had enough and judges have had enough. This has to end.”

He said any elected official who is thinking about becoming corrupt should now be acutely aware of the consequences, and Blagojevich’s sentence should serve as a deterrent — even though Ryan’s 6 1/2-year sentence apparently did not.

“If a 14-year sentence doesn’t stop someone, I wouldn’t want to be sitting in front of a judge after that,” he said.

In making a final argument for a sentence of 15 to 20 years, Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar disputed defense attorneys’ claims that Blagojevich’s actions didn’t hurt anyone.

“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 questioned the defense’s honesty in claiming Blagojevich accepts full responsibility for his crimes, implying they were only telling the judge what he wanted to hear and accusing Blagojevich of lying on the stand throughout his seven days of testimony on his own behalf at his second trial.

“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.

In making his plea for mercy, Blagojevich was contrite and said he was “unbelievably sorry,” in stark contrast to his steadfast proclamations of innocence going back to his arrest three years ago.

Before the sentence, an emotional Blagojevich told the judge: “I accept the people’s verdict, judge. They found me guilty and all I can say is I never wanted to hurt anyone … I would hope you can find some mercy.”

Blagojevich also lamented the impact the case has had on his family, particularly his daughters.

“I want to apologize to my wife. I love her. She has stood by me in the worst of times, not only the best of times. … Of course I want to apologize to my children and explain this is not how we saw this,” Blagojevich said. “Because of my stupidity and the mistakes that I’ve talked about … I’ve ruined their innocence. … It’s not like their name is Smith, they can’t hide.”

While Zagel said he gave credit for accepting responsibility for his crimes and for good works on behalf of children while governor, he also said it was too late for the governor to think his concern for his own family would spare him a lengthy sentence for his crimes.

“I don’t doubt his devotion to children, but this is not an unusual situation. … It is not exceptional,” Zagel said. “I see case after case where good fathers are also bad citizens. … If it is any consolation to his children, it is not to stand being convicted of a bad father.”

The judge said the children of felons undoubtedly suffer when their parent goes to prison, but he said the only one to blame for that is the defendant.

Where Blagojevich will serve his time is still to be determined, although his defense team asked that he serve his sentence in a prison camp.

Normally, defendants sentenced to more than 10 years in prison don’t go to prison camps, instead being sent to more traditional prisons, but Zagel said he was likely to recommend a prison camp for Blagojevich. The final decision will be determined by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

READ MORE: Release From U.S. Attorney’s Office

At his retrial earlier this year, Blagojevich, 54, was convicted of 17 charges, including allegations he tried to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Last summer, at his first trial, jurors convicted him of lying to the FBI, but were deadlocked on all other charges.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 15 to 20 years, noting that Blagojevich showed no remorse for his actions and has repeatedly painted the prosecution of him as a political witch hunt.

The defense had pushed for a sentence of as little as probation, arguing that Blagojevich’s actions did not cause any public harm and that h he did not profit from the crimes he was convicted of committing.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin released a statement after the sentencing: “I hope today’s sentencing finally draws this sad chapter in Illinois history to a close.”

–Todd Feurer, CBS 2 Web Producer

  • Bill

    Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.

    • Sage Hamilton

      Finaly got him. To much coruption has come out of Chicago. First all the anti gun stuff, then their former governor, our current president, and all the pro choice gunk. It’s time for to liberate Chicago.

    • roger judkins

      And don’t bend over to pick up the soap…

    • A_Concerned_Citizen

      I’m no fan of Blago(he’s definitely NO saint), and he is certainly most guilty to have the every intent to sell the “Senate Seat”, but does that warrant 14 years???… I mean Blago was NOT caught red handed like B. Maltese who only got 8 years…. Rod never got any Family KILLED in a Burning Van like G. Ryan who only got 6 years…. I mean Blago was found guilty of “LYING”… if that’s the case, then we’re all guilty and should all go to jail, people… This guy never lived in a fancy house nor did he own fancy cars… the family were selling everything and signing up for “Reality TV” Shows to make ends meet… and to think that the (prejudice) JUDGE was contemplating of giving him 20yrs to LIFE a day before the sentencing for LYING??… Get Real… If anyone should go to jail for 14 years to LIFE for LYING it should be G. Bush… Amen to that…


        If the I NEWS TEAM wants a story INVESTIGATE the Jury System in IL. This is one of the more HARSH REALITIES we have to offer in this lovely state. Anyone reading these posts could be wrongly accused of something and if you get a jury that is so P’d off about the measly $17 a day they are receiving you could be doing several years NOT because you are necessarily guilty BUT because THEY WANT TO GO HOME. Every jury i’ve served on has had this bias since 1993!! It is a PATHETIC JOKE and both the judges and lawyers GET RICH while YOU won’t even get MINIMUM WAGE. No wonder there is so much resentment at anyone high profile that is tried. THINK ABOUT IT people IF YOU CAN.

      • Steve

        Couldn’t agree more about GW! However i do feel this creep got what he deserved!

      • Geosophus

        Sigh. It is not about lying. It is about corruption. I don’t think George Bush tried to sell a senate seat in Illinois. Up the ante every time one of these Chicago thugs does more damage. Make it 20 years next time, and 30 after that!

      • T-Bar

        You were doing so good A_Concerned Citizen…then you shot yourself in the foot by accusing G. Bush of lying. He was mistaken about weapons of mass destruction with Sadaam…but, you have no evidence he deliberately lied…so you are guilty of slander.

    • bobster

      My opinion having served on a few jurys in crook county. The whole JURY SYSTEM in IL is BROKEN! @ $17 per day NOT ADJUSTED since 1968 how in GOD’S NAME can you expect anyone to truly serve on a jury while thinking through the evidence carefully? These people obviosly wanted to go home quick and rendered their decision as such. Until the pay is increased to about $75 per day (adjusted in today’s dollars) you will continue to get split second verdicts where people would rather make decisions based on the “media spin” than have to carefully think for themselves. Listening to the jurors tonight on tv it only supports what i’ve been saying for many years about how criminal cases are impacted by this tiny little stipend.

    • PatrioticUSGlory

      Won’t do the time. Obama will commute his sentence, perhaps even pardon him, on Obama’s final day in office. Same with Tony Rezko. Chicago-style politics.

      • Just askin

        Exactly. And since he has 90 days before reporting to prison, Hell serve about 6 months. Question is, what will the lame stream media report once he pardons him?

      • Knightflyer2

        Yes Friend ,but that will be taken care of.Merry Christmas

      • John Dodge

        Also possible that the Kenyan Communist will have poor Blago wacked in prison. Blago spared him in hopes of a pardon, but Blago is too dangerous to be left alive.

      • yankeefan

        Neither Rezko nor Blagovich have anything to offer Obama in exchange for their freedom.; in my opinion they’ll be left to rot behind bars Ex governor Jon Corzine has wads of cash; Obama will hold up Blago and Rezko to Corzine as examples of what will hapen if Corzine doesn’t pony up big time.

  • Jakub Argasinski


  • Jakub Argasinski

    you must be crazy

    • Mark Langley

      This story was pre-spammed. Democrats will never tell the real story.

    • PatrioticUSGlory

      It’s generally agreed that Obama will pardon Blagojevich on his last day in office.

      • KN

        It”s nice to have friends.

  • Craig Eliot

    Good riddance! This guy is EVERYTHING that’s wrong with the world, and with a greed-influenced America in particular.

    • jack farrell


    • Zastava

      I’m sure he won’t be doing that much real time, big signs that say 14 yrs. now, just for show, he’ll probably do 2 yrs. maybe ??

    • Yeziam12


      • johnny rotten

        Telll me 1 country or any person who is not greed influenced

  • carlos


    Could Barack be next up?

    • roger judkins

      Now wouldn’t the inmates have ‘fun’ with BO…!

    • Bruce Brinkmann

      Obama would just pardon himself. After all, he’s been to the Billy Clinton school of; How to lie to a grand jury, and get away with it!. Oh! Pardon me…..

    • tubaman

      boy i hope so!!!

  • RaeMarie

    Why 2012?? They should put this snake away right now!!

  • Eugene Shults

    hahahaha i feel sorry for Blago’s buttocks. Couldn’t happen to a more vile person.

  • bikertrash

    One crooked illinois politician down -About 10 more to go!

    • Bob-Salem

      Did you mean 10,000?

    • kcsparky

      Try again there bubba…more like 10 x 10. And they can start with Obozo’s favorite buddy the Mayor!

    • laffin'atcha

      about 10? You need more fingers to count on…

      • Amos

        Chris Christie indited 134 DemoRAT politicians and obtained 134 DemoRAT politicians’ convictions in New Jersey during his time as a Federal Prosecutor.

        You guys have a long way to go. Why isn’t Patrick Fitzgerald doing a better job? His effort should be no more than shooting fish in a barrel. Something is a little fishy with his office.

    • Doug

      Only 10? Are you kidding?

    • Dave

      Just 10???

    • Neo

      10? You’re joking, right?

    • Josh

      Hell yeah brother many more to go.

  • Vito

    Play the tapes that he says implicate others such as Obama and the mayor (what’s his face)

  • Ellsworth

    If Blago is going to jail, a few folks from O’s White House – or the Mayor’s office in Chicago – should be going with him.

  • amplitude jones

    Hey- prison operators! First thing: SHAVE ITS UGLY HEAD.
    That slimy traitor pig is evil!

  • anti-Obamunist

    “I would hope you can find some mercy.”
    Yes Rob – they didn’t electrocute you!

  • Walter W. Charles

    Hope this is the last we’ll hear of this dirtbag! I wonder how deeply Obama was involved in this!

    • John

      Obama will pardon him when he leaves office…….if he isn’t indited himself.

      That being said, if Blago has some real dirt on Obama and Emanuel, he may be conveniently found dead and never make it to prison. Anyone remember Vince Foster?

      • David W Shaw

        The deal for the pardon has already been made for Blago’s silence on what he knows about the other Chicago hoods.

  • Tom Walter

    Looks Like He’ll Be Getting His Turds Tickeled.

    • Weeha

      His sphincter spelunked

    • Jim in Houston

      And his fudge packed.

    • Craftsman Font

      Ive never been to jail… how do you guys know so much?

    • Tiki886

      His gerbel felched.

      • Mike

        They will make his brown eye black and blue.
        Keep a pillow nearby…..for biting.
        That pretty hair is gonna get a little messed up.
        Are there prison rules for hide the sausage? If so, will he break them too?

  • Ed

    They should have got the rest of the crooks too (Obama, Rahm…)

  • Marilyn

    Sorry he got caught is more like it

  • Joseph

    this is a tragedy of justice. Justice is too severe. The man hurt no one and didn’t even complete the acts. 14 years is a terrible waste for a person of his stature. The justice system doesn’t work anymore.

    • thebeerczar

      Don’t worry Joseph, being convited of trying to sell a senate seat to the highest bidder, is worthy of 14 years, on that conviction alone, however, a presidential pardon is sure to come for this low life creep.

    • freecheese

      ” . . . a terrible waste for a person of his STATURE.” But if it was Joe Six Pack. the sentence would be “appropriate?” You liberals still don’t get it !

    • Crazy?

      Joseph, see my comment to PAG. You will fit.

    • White Tiger

      Stature? The man is a slimeball! Get serious.

    • Jim in Houston

      You are obviously part of the Crook County crowd.

    • Gretagarbo

      His stature? So you think that those who are in public office should be cut a break? Please tell me this is a joke. They should be held to a higher standard than the rest of us. Equal justice – for all means that he doesn’t get leniency, anymore than you or I would. if your post is serious, then you are part of the problem as to how corrupt our political system has become.

    • AtlasObjectivist

      The people are tired of corruption. The only tragedy is the sentence was too light.

    • tom

      i agree,he ,comparedc to the fed and treasury,should get a good citizen award and $100,000 severance. the real criminals are taking BILLIONS,,and no a hand slap!1

  • fwippel

    My guess is he’ll appeal the sentence, and he won’t serve a day in prison. Even if he does go off to prison, he can count on a morning pardon on January 20, 2013, Barack Obama’s final day in office.

  • Fred

    On to the next corrupt politician. This should be just the start of the process and should not stop until the courts are through all levels of government. It’s people like Rod Blagojevich who have and are continuing to ruin this country.

  • Bye Bye

    It’s Bush’s fault!

  • bruce

    question to CBS is Blogo a `(D) or an
    (R) ? for some strange reason his party affiliation is not mentioned.
    I wounder why?

  • AtlasObjectivist

    Send him away. Another closed chapter in the corrupt Illinois system of failing state government.

  • PAG

    I think it is crazy of Judge Zagal to hand down a 14 year sentence! George Ryan actually took bribes, children died as a result of his actions, and he was sentenced to only 9 years. Governor Blago, as wrong as his actions were, never received a dime and no deaths were caused by his actions. I think this was a pesonal vendetta with the prosecution and the judge happen to side with him. I think 5-7 years was enough punishment. Not one Illinois governor who went to jail, who actually made moiney, received a sentence this harse. Murders have received less time. Conrad Murray received 4 years for murder! Look at the bank CEOs, executives on Wall Street all who have prospered, as we all lost money-not one has been prosecuted, and Gov Blago gets 14 years? What’s wrong with our justice system?

    • JediJones

      Making money on stocks isn’t a crime. Maybe you should learn to play the market yourself instead of whining that other people are more successful than you. It still offers better returns on average than the returns we get back from the thieves in the government who steal our income before we even get the check.

      • PAG

        Perhaps you missed 60 minutes this last Sunday- too bad- maybe you’d learn something!

    • Doug

      Never received a dime? If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge for sale…

    • Crazy?

      PAG. Your a dum8a$$. Just because some don’t get as harsh a sentance as they deserve, doesn’t mean others should get off easy. Fry them all!

      Q: What’s wrong with our justice system?

      A: Lawyers and liberal judges.

      • Ray Stark

        I love how the guy calling people “dum8a$$” used ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ and can’t even spell. A true moron.

      • Jim in Houston


    • Larry Fredricks

      @PAG, You have made a few comments that are completely inaccurate. Nobody died as a result of anything Ryan did. Ryan did not work at the DMV. CDL’s were sold under the table by a few corrupt DMV employees. The accident involving the Willis family could have happened to any truck driver, a mud flap bracket failed! This was a personal vendetta only because of Blago’s constant TV appearances, claiming the tapes were wrong. His arrogance probably cost him several extra years. Conrad Murray did not commit murder by any stretch of the imagination. It may have been unusual to use propophyl as a sleep aid, but he administered it and was present the whole time. If he had refused to give Jackson what he needed to sleep, the next doctor would have. Jackson was nothing more than a drug addicted child molester anyway. The bank CEO’s and executives on Wall Street are wealthy for sure, but they are not responsible for laws and regulations, that’s congress’s job. So it seems you have a twisted perception of things. You’re not one of those whack job OWS Losers, are you? Or worse yet, a Democrat????

      • Her

        Slow down buddy you being way disrespectful!!!

      • PAG

        Nope, Republican!

      • Patrick

        I love the argument that if he didnt do it someone else would have so he shouldn’t be held liable. That is a moronic argument. In the Jackson case the MD administered Propofol (you spelled it incorretly you could have also spelled it Diprivan) without any of the proper resuscitation equipment present. If he had he could have prevented Jackson’s death rather easily by providing artificial respirations until it wore off since the half-life of Propofol is very short. But instead he regarded Jackson as a paycheck instead of a patient and forgot due diligence. No excuse for it, even if Jackson was a pedophile. Also a person’s character can be and is often used to determine sentencing. He deserved every year.

      • PAG

        Larry-No fooling, Ryan did not work at the DMV, but he must have looked the other way or received money himself. Either way, it was on his watch, and yes could have happened to any truck driver…but it didn’t!!

        By the way, rethink the Bank CEO’s responsibilities- watch this last Sunday 60 minutes and tell me they didn’t break the law!

    • tweedy

      I agree! Sentence too harse. What about Obama, Jesse Jackson Jr, etc the rest of the Chicago croonies? They are all out for themselves, ie- Obama making, Immelt of GE his job czar as he closes the GE Wisconsin location and moves it to China adding jobs to CHINA!!-did he forget what country he is suppose to create jobs in? Now THATS a CRIME!

    • California Charlie

      You are one of the few on this message board that gets it right. My sentiments, exactly.

  • retired military

    ““His abuse of the office of governor is more damaging than the abuse of any other office in the United States except president,” Zagel sa”

    Gee I hope Obama has to go before this judge for his crimes.

    BTW Blago will get pardoneded next year right after the elections.

  • bikertrash

    I hope Blago has some new cellmates real soon-like Rhambo,Axelrod,Bill Ayers,and Valerie Jarrett.Then they can all find out why they call it”THE POKEY”

    • lukuj

      He will have plenty of other Democrats to keep him company. I grew up in the Chicago area, and I thought that jail is where Illinois governor’s go when they are not longer governor, or sometimes before their term is up. I also thought people were supposed to vote more than once and that dead people were allowed to vote. After all everyone knew that happened at the polls in and around Chicago.

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