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CHICAGO (CBS) – Exactly two weeks before former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is scheduled to report to prison, a federal judge has ordered that nearly $22,000 be seized from Blagojevich’s state pension fund to pay off the fines and penalties that were part of his sentence on corruption charges.
The order by U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, dated Wednesday, leaves Blagojevich with $107,367.86 in the General Assembly Retirement System. He was eligible to start drawing on the pension when he turned 55 last December.
Blagojevich cannot draw his full pension, after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a legal opinion that his conviction disqualified him from a $65,000 annual pension for serving six years as governor and three years as a state representative.
Instead, Blagojevich can only recoup the money he paid into the system from his own pocket, minus the amount Zagel ordered seized from his retirement fund.
Blagojevich is also eligible for a $15,000 annual pension for his six years in Congress, beginning on his 62nd birthday.
The convicted former governor is set to report to a federal prison in Littleton, Colo., near Denver, on March 15. He is facing a 14-year sentence for his convictions on 18 corruption charges, but good behavior and participation in an alcohol rehabilitation program could cut that time to about 11 years.
Blagojevich’s legal ordeal has left his family financially strapped. They have been trying to sell their home in the Ravenswood neighborhood. It’s not yet known if his wife, Patti, and their two children will move to Colorado to be closer to him while he’s behind bars.
–Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago Web Producer