Adios, Blago: Ex-Illinois governor gets 14 years

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison after his convictions on 18 felony corruption counts including his 2008 effort to illegally trade an appointment to Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for campaign money or other benefits.

Blagojevich was also sentenced for shaking down the chief executive of a children’s hospital for $25,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for implementing an increase to pediatric reimbursement rates; holding up the signing of a bill to benefit the Illinois horse racing industry in an attempt to illegally obtain $100,000 in campaign contributions; and lying to the FBI in 2005.

The government wanted the judge to give Blagojevich 15 to 20 years behind bars, but the judge went a little lower after finding the ex-governor accepted responsibility for his crimes. (He did? Maybe he should update his website.) Blagojevich, who’ll turn 55 on Saturday, is scheduled to start serving his sentence Feb. 16.

My favorite line from the federal prosecutors’ news release: “The prison term is the longest-ever imposed on a former governor in the Northern District of Illinois.”

Because they’re in the habit of nailing the state’s former governors, y’know. George Ryan got six-and-a-half years in his corruption case; he’s scheduled to get out of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on July 4, 2013. (How patriotic!)

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    “Blago” should forfeit his assets and serve 100,000 hrs of community service doing constructive things like cleaning schools, public housing repairs, etc. Let the people of Illinois see him working for the people.

  • John W

    Watched Morning Joe on MSNBC today. Consensus, including Republican Joe Scarborough and the more liberal people on the show, was that this is way too much prison time — especially considering that, in the federal prison system, you actually have to serve nearly the entire sentence. People get less real time for murder. I tend to agree.