|Daley and Obama can count their blessings that their crimes equally as bad as Blagojevich's are getting a pass by the Feds|
U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel ignored disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plea for mercy at his sentencing hearing today. Zagel sentenced the impeached governor for his conviction for various political corruption charges to 14 years in a federal prison. According to the Sun-Times, federal guidelines will require Blagojevich to serve at least 85% of that time behind bars, or just under 12 years. The ex-governor, who will turn 55 on Saturday, will have to surrender to begin serving his sentence on February 15, 2012. Zagel said of his sentence:
"I believe he did, in fact, accept [responsibility],” U.S. District Judge James Zagel said in announcing how long Blagojevich should spend in prison after being convicted of 18 corruption charges that included attempting to sell or trade an appointment to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the election of President Barack Obama.
But the judge said the entire state suffered from his actions.
“When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily or quickly repaired,” Zagel said. “You did that damage.” In deciding the sentence, the judge said he had given credit to Blagojevich for accepting responsibility for his crimes in remarks made Wednesday morning.
“It’s clear he is not blaming” the people around him, said Zagel, adding that he also gave Blagojevich credit for his work on behalf of children while governor in creating the state’s All Kids health-care program.Blagojevich will join former Gov. George Ryan in the ranks of former Illinois governors sent to prison for crimes they committed either in office or out of office. Ryan is currently serving a 6 1/2-year sentence in the Terre Haute federal penetentiary. Former Illinois Gov. Dan Walker served time back in the 1980s for crimes associated with his management of a savings and loan institution after he left the governor's office. Blagojevich also received a $20,000 fine for his crimes.
Referring to comments from Blagojevich’s lawyers in asking for a sentence of no more than 3½ years, Zagel said: “I don’t doubt his devotion to children, but this is not ... exceptional, in my own experience. I see case after case where good fathers are bad citizens. There is no question that the innocent children of felons suffer. This is tragic, but, as he admits, the fault of this lies with the defendant alone. Now, it is too late.
“If it is any consolation to his children, he does not stand convicted of being a bad father.”
But Zagel noted the damage caused by Blagojevich “is not measured in the value of money and property. The harm is the erosion of the public trust in government; [people’s] confidence in and trust in government.”