Blagojevich expected to speak at sentencing

AP News
Posted: Nov 07, 2011 8:46 PM
Blagojevich expected to speak at sentencing

Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich plans to make a statement to the court at his newly scheduled sentencing hearing in December, his attorney said Monday.

The attorney's comments came as a federal judge set a new sentencing date of Dec. 6 for Blagojevich.

Jurors at Blagojevich's retrial earlier this year convicted him on 17 of 20 corruption charges, including attempted extortion for trying to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat. At his first trial last year, jurors deadlocked on all but one count _ convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI.

Blagojevich's attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, wouldn't discuss what the former Democratic governor planned say to the sentencing judge, James Zagel. Defendants typically express remorse in the hopes for leniency, though Blagojevich has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Sorosky said the December sentencing on the total of 18 counts could last two days as the sides argue for what they see as an appropriate punishment. Neither has yet gone on record with their recommendations.

Technically, Blagojevich faces a maximum sentence of 305 years in prison _ though federal guidelines dictate he get far less. Most legal experts have said Zagel is likely to sentence Blagojevich to around 10 years.

The new sentencing date, which is just four days before Blagojevich's 55th birthday, replaces an October date canceled but not immediately rescheduled because it conflicted with a related trial.

The initial Oct. 6 sentencing date conflicted with the trial of longtime Illinois political powerbroker William Cellini with the same judge in the same Chicago courtroom. A jury last week convicted Cellini, a 76-year-old Republican, of conspiring to squeeze the Oscar-winning producer of "Million Dollar Baby" for a $1.5 million contribution to Blagojevich's campaign fund.

Cellini's trial was the last scheduled trial stemming from a nearly decade-long federal investigation of Blagojevich, which has ensnared more than a dozen people associated with his administration.