CHICAGO (CBS) — Almost eight years after he left his home in Ravenswood Manor to begin serving a prison term in Colorado, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich soon will be winging his way back to Chicago, and family couldn’t be more elated.
Blagojevich’s family learned Tuesday morning that President Donald Trump had commuted his 14-year prison sentence, meaning he’ll soon be released from a federal prison in Colorado.
“They’re obviously very happy,” Blagojevich’s sister-in-law, Deb Mell, said outside the Blagojevich family home Tuesday afternoon.
Mell said Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, won’t be flying to Colorado to pick up her husband, but will stay in Chicago while they work on the logistics of getting him home once the U.S. Bureau of Prisons releases him from custody at a federal lockup outside Denver.
“I’m just so thrilled for my nieces,” Mell said of Blagojevich’s daughters, Amy and Annie, who have only been able to see their father during occasional visits to the prison over the past eight years he’s been behind bars.
Blagojevich has been in prison nearly eight years, following his 2011 conviction for among other things, trying to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by Barack Obama before he was elected president in 2008. A federal jury also convicted him of charges he tried to shake down a racetrack owner, a tollway construction company executive, and the CEO of a children’s hospital; and for lying to the feds to cover it all up.
Patti has been her husband’s most vocal advocate since he went to prison, publicly lobbying Trump for nearly two years since Blagojevich’s appeals were exhausted.
Mell, a former Chicago alderman and former state representative who cast the lone vote against impeaching Blagojevich in 2009, declined to say what her sister’s reaction was when they found out Tuesday morning that Blagojevich would be coming home.
“I’m going to let her say her story,” she said.
Supporters and well-wishers already are anticipating Blagojevich’s homecoming, setting up banners and balloons on the family’s front porch to welcome him back.
One neighbor even jokingly posed about soon seeing Blagojevich running near his North Side home again.
“Please be aware that a certain individual (a former Governor of IL) will soon again be ‘jogging’ unconventionally throughout the neighborhood in a kind of unpredictable serpentine manner,” a post on Nextdoor.com stated.
It’s unclear exactly when Blagojevich will be set free. Mell said the family will book him a flight home as soon as possible after his release, but she declined to say if it would be a matter of hours or of days.