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Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Sentenced to 14 Years in Federal Prison

Scott Olson, Getty Images

Rod Blagojevich, the former Democratic governor of Illinois, was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison for political corruption that includes an attempt to sell the US Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.

The well-coiffed Blagojevich, whose 55th birthday is Saturday, must report to prison by February 16 and is required to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence, or roughly 12 years.

He was found guilty earlier this year on 17 of 20 counts of seeking jobs and campaign contributions in exchange for state government action. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence of such, including suggesting Blagojevich wanted $1.5 million in campaign contributions from supporters of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., in exchange for appointing him to Obama’s Senate seat.

While Blagojevich had asked US District Judge James B. Zagel for mercy in the sentencing, saying he was “unbelievably sorry,” Zagel was unmoved by the defense theory that Blagojevich was misled by his staff. “The governor was not marched along the criminal path by his staff,” Zagel said. “He marched them and ruined a few of their careers.”

Illinois seems to have trouble attracting honest people to the governor’s mansion — Blagojevich’s predecessor, Republican George Ryan, is currently in prison on corruption charges, as well.


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