The government Wednesday recommended former Gov. Rod Blagojevich be sentenced to 15 to 20 years in prison for his corruption convictions.
Blagojevich was convicted on 17 counts at his retrial, including extortion and bribery, and was convicted of lying to the FBI at his first trial, making him eligible for 305 years in prison if he was given a maximum sentence on every count. Experts estimated he would be sentenced to 10 to 15 years.
He was found guilty on charges including attempting to sell the senate seat of President Barack Obama.
Blagojevich’s defense attorneys must file their recommendations for sentencing by midnight Wednesday. They have said they will recommend probation.
Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing is scheduled to start on Dec. 6. The hearing was delayed until the conclusion of the trial of Springfield power broker William Cellini, who was convicted of shaking down a Hollywood producer for a contribution to Blagojevich.
“Blagojevich repeatedly committed serious criminal acts that have done enormous damage to public confidence in Illinois government,” the government said in their filing. “He has refused to accept any responsibility for his criminal conduct and, rather, has repeatedly obstructed justice and taken action to further erode respect for the law. ... In short, the nature and circumstances of Blagojevich’s criminal activity are a significant aggravating factor in determining an appropriate sentence. Recent cases involving public corruption have led to substantial sentences for defendants who, as public officials, engaged in corrupt activity.”
Legal analyst Karen Conti said she believes Blagojevich doesn’t deserve 15 to 20 years, saying he’s just the face of corruption in Illinois, not the source of it. Nevertheless, because Blagojevich was the ringleader of a corruption scheme, Conti said he should get the highest sentence. Convicted Blagojevich associate Tony Rezko was sentenced to 10 1/2 years, so that indicates Blagojevich should get more.
Conti said she expects Blagojevich will likely be sentenced to 15 to 17 years, and he will serve 85 percent of it. He will likely be ordered to report to prison in early January after spending the holidays with family.
Also Wednesday, the government filed their sole objection to the presentencing report, which they said incorrectly valued the bribes Blagojevich sought in relation to the Senate seat bribery, extortion and fraud. The government argued that at times, the presentencing report reinterpreted the evidence from the trial and questioned the jury’s findings.