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Rod Blagojevich Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison [UPDATE]

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 7, 2011 6:35PM

Judge James Zagel sentenced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to 168 months in prison for his conviction on corruption charges stemming from his attempts to appoint someone to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama's election to the presidency.

That's 14 years. Blagojevich served six years as governor. Zagel, in handing down his sentence, said, Blagojevich's abuses were "more damaging than the abuse of any other office in the U.S. except president" and that "the vast majority of the facts are not disputed. It is difficult to dispute what is on the recordings."

Blagojevich threw himself at the mercy of Judge James Zagel in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a stiff prison term. For the first time, Blagojevich at least admitted he broke the law, but insisted he didn't know what he was doing was wrong.

“I never set out to break the law,” said Blagojevich, who came to court Wednesday wearing a black suit with a silver tie. “The jury decided I was guilty, I am accepting of it, I acknowledge it.

“I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions and the things I did and I thought I could do. I’m not blaming anybody.”

Many analysts believed Blagojevich's pleas came too little, too late. Blagojevich's antics during his two trials also didn't ingratiate himself with Zagel or prosecutors, who had requested a sentence of 15-20 years.

Blagojevich will have to surrender to federal authorities by Feb. 16, 2012 to begin serving his sentence. While Blagojevich is in prison his father-in-law, 33rd Ward Ald. Dick Mell, will support his daughter Patti Blagojevich and the couple's two daughters.

[Update] 2 p.m. Central time. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office released a statement that read, in part:

"Blagojevich betrayed the trust and faith that Illinois voters placed in him, feeding great public frustration, cynicism and disengagement among citizens. 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."

(A copy of the statement is below.)

Blagojevich also met with assembled media, said this was a time for he and his family to stay strong, to explain the verdict to his daughters, and quoted from the Rudyard Kipling poem "If:" "If you can meet with a triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same."

2011 12 7 Blago Fed-statement