Chicago, IL -
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison today at his sentencing hearing. He was previously convicted on 17 counts of corruption charges while he was governor of Illinois, trying to receive favors and benefits from potential candidates to be appointed to then Sen. Barack Obama's Senate seat left open once he was elected president in 2008.
During his sentencing he said he was "unbelievably sorry," and went on to say, "I've had plenty of time to reflect on all that's happened," Blagojevich said. "I'm here convicted of crimes, and I am accepting of it, acknowledge it."
U.S. District Judge James Zagel heard Blagojevich's apologies, but said he was "not impressed."
Zagel noted that Blagojevich did not resign as governor despite the indictments, but if he had it might have helped show he accepted responsibility. In fact, during his trial and afterwards, he went on numerous talk shows attesting to his innocence and only began expressing his sorrow shortly before the sentencing hearing.
"There is a line between routine politics, horse trading and campaign politics," Blagojevich said. "I thought they were permissible and I was mistaken."
Blagojevich's defense attorneys were positive after his conviction that he would only get probation and Blagojevich even promoted that as no big deal. Federal prosecutors sought a sentence of 15 to 20 years, but his lawyers called that excessive and asked the judge for leniency on Tuesday, even as they admitted for the first time that crimes were committed.
The judge further ordered him to begin serving his sentence within 90 days and to pay a fine of $20,000.
"Blagojevich betrayed the trust and faith that Illinois voters placed in him, feeding great public frustration, cynicism and disengagement among citizens," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said after the sentencing. "People have the right to expect that their elected leaders will honor the oath they swear to, and this sentence shows that the justice system will stand up to protect their expectations."