Ex-Illinois governor Blagojevich faces judge for sentence

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 06, 2011 1:13 PM
Ex-Illinois governor Blagojevich faces judge for sentence

By Mary Wisniewski and Janan Hanna

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Prosecutors are arguing Tuesday that disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich should get 15 to 20 years for corruption charges.

Blagojevich was convicted of multiple charges in June, including the accusation that he tried to trade the senate seat once held by President Barack Obama for financial and personal gain.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel said Tuesday morning that he will consider in sentencing Blagojevich the financial benefits the former governor would have received from the Senate seat trade and other government actions if federal authorities hadn't arrested him before the deals went through.

"It was a price he put on it," Zagel said. "A price he expected to receive."

Zagel said just because Blagojevich did not get "money in his pocket" does not mean he should be spared punishment for the attempt to get campaign contributions in exchange for official actions.

The flamboyant two-term Democrat was thrown out of office in 2009.

Blagojevich was tried twice -- first in August 2010, when he was convicted of one charge of lying to investigators and jurors deadlocked on 23 other counts. After a second trial this year, he was convicted of 17 of 20 counts.

More than 130 people were in the Chicago federal courtroom to observe Tuesday's hearing, including Blagojevich's wife, Patti. Some jurors from both panels also were present.

Blagojevich's predecessor in office, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, is currently serving a federal prison term on corruption charges.

Zagel is expected to announce the sentence Wednesday.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Reporting by Janan Hanna; Editing by Greg McCune)