LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS) — Sunday marked one month behind bars for Rod Blagojevich, and his attorney, Aaron Goldstein, says the deposed governor is fully entrenched behind bars.
As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, on March 15, the governor quietly walked through the doors of the FCI Englewood correctional center in Littleton, Colo., and began serving his 14-year sentence.
It was a chaotic trip to prison. From the time he left his home in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood in the early morning hours to his arrival at the prison about seven hours later, Blagojevich was in his usual form – basking in the spotlight as he gave reporters interviews, and posed for pictures and signed autographs for everyone from Transportation Security agents to casual well-wishers.
His last comments as a free man came as he stopped at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers in Littleton.
“There’s no sugar-coating this. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. And I have a hole in my heart. It’s an empty feeling,” he said.
One month later, life is very different for former governor Rod Blagojevich. There are no more reporters or curious well-wishers; only inmates, correctional officers and prison staff.
“Beyond missing his family, I think it’s being away from, just, the general population,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein says the toughest part of the first month has been Blagojevich’s separation from his wife, Patti, and two daughters. They came to visit him for the first time Easter weekend and Goldstein says it was bittersweet and it was apparent saying good-bye to his family was difficult for him.
“It was bittersweet. I mean, to be able to see his wife and kids was, you know, a wonderful thing. At the time, they had to say goodbye,” Goldstein said. “He wouldn’t lead on that it was very difficult, but you could tell.”
Goldstein has talked to the former governor three times since he reported to FCI Englewood. He says Blagojevich has three cell mates. They share a dormitory-type room. Blagojevich spends his free time running, lifting weights and doing legal research in the prison’s library.
Goldstein says Blagojevich doesn’t have a specific prison job yet but has been working a lot in the kitchen and some other areas of Englewood.
He says Blagojevich is getting along with other inmates. What he isn’t doing is wallowing in self-pity.
“He’s very, very thick-skinned and strong-willed,” Goldstein said. “And I know he’s hurting inside but he doesn’t lead on in any way that he’s having trouble.”
Goldstein says Blagojevich is having some trouble sleeping, but remains focused on his appeal.
After his second trial last month, Blagojevich was convicted of 18 counts of corruption, including allegations that he tried to sell President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison by U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel in December.