Defense Attorney: ‘No Shock Or Surprise’ For Blago In Prison
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Rod Blagojevich’s lawyer said the former governor’s first two weeks in prison have been about what Blagojevich expected.
Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein said he’s talked with Blagojevich since the ex-governor reported to the FCI Englewood prison in Englewood, Colo.
Is prison what Blagojevich expected?
“I think to a certain degree, yes. I don’t know how much he expected, and what exactly he expected, but there’s been no shock or surprise, let’s put it that way,” Goldstein said.
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Goldstein also said Blagojevich is in good spirits and “his head is still held high.”
He said Blagojevich has received several letters since he’s been in prison.
Goldstein also said the 10-day sentence that Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, John Harris, received on Wednesday is “very troubling and seems extremely unfair” in light of Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence.
“It’s a great thing that he’s not going to jail for a long time in any way, but it just highlights how unfair the sentence against Mr. Blagojevich was,” Goldstein said. “It’s very troubling and it seems extremely unfair that Blagojevich goes to trial and he gets 14 years, and Harris doesn’t go to trial and gets 10 days.”
Harris was the star witness for the prosecution at the two trials that resulted in Blagojevich’s conviction on 18 corruption counts and 14-year prison sentence. Jurors found Blagojevich guilty of scheming to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate, as well as trying to extort campaign contributions from a horse racetrack owner and an executive at Children’s Memorial Hospital
Harris, 50, pleaded guilty in 2010 to helping Blagojevich in some of his schemes. He faced up to five years behind bars. He began cooperating with federal prosecutors within days of his arrest and agreed to testify against Blagojevich, providing the bulk of the testimony against the former governor.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel praised Harris for his cooperation with investigators and said that he sympathized with Harris having to deal with such a difficult boss as Blagojevich. But while heaping praise on Harris, the judge said that some, but minimal, time behind bars was necessary.
Zagel also said that Blagojevich displayed a level of “mental instability” during his two trials, an observation Goldstein said speaks to the disparity in the sentences the judge handed down to Harris and Blagojevich.
“The mentality that the judge discussed about Blagojevich didn’t seem to be a factor in his sentencing, but was a factor that helped Harris at his sentencing,” Goldstein said.
Another former Blagojevich chief of staff, Alonzo Monk, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. Monk also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and testified against Blagojevich in exchange for a plea deal with prosecutors.