Judge James Zagel sentenced Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday in the Northern District of Illinois on 18 counts of corruption, including his June convictions on charges that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a top job. The impeached governor must report to prison on February 16.

Prosecutors in the case were seeking 15 to 20 years for Blagojevich, while defense counsel was arguing for only 4 to 5 years. Judge Zagel was clearly upset with Blagovich when he pronounced his sentence, stating “When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn, disfigured and not easily repaired.”

In federal court, judges typically follow the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to determine how much time a defendant will serve. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Guidelines are not mandatory, but most federal judges determine their sentence based on how the convicted counts fit into the Guideline range. Unfortunately for Blagojevich, not only was he convicted on 18 counts, but he was also a public official at the time which fares a higher sentence.

Blagojevich’s first trial took place in the summer of 2010 and he was convicted of making false statements to FBI agents when he told them in an interview on March 16, 2005, that he did not track, or want to know, who contributed to him or how much money they contributed to him, but the jury was deadlocked on all remaining counts.

The government went after Blagojevich again in the spring of 2011, and this time he was convicted on 17 additional counts, including 10 counts of wire fraud, two counts of attempted extortion, two counts of conspiracy to commit extortion, one count of soliciting bribes, and two counts of conspiracy to solicit and accept bribes.

Federal prosecutors and the judge have made a spectacle of this case, as Blagojevich’s lengthy sentence is surely meant to heed a warning to others not to engage in public corruption practices. Unfortunately, the ones suffering the most in this case are Blagojevich’s young daughters, who will be adults when he is released in 14 years.

Blagojevich is the fourth Illinois governor to be sentenced to prison. The previous governor, George H. Ryan, is still serving time for his corruption sentence and is set to be released in 2013.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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