Blagojevich Sentence Upheld

Aug 9, 2016

A federal judge has upheld former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

The Democrat appeared via a video link Tuesday from his Colorado prison for a resentencing hearing in Chicago. It was the 59-year-old's first public appearance since he entered prison in 2012.

Blagojevich was originally sentenced in 2011, following his conviction for trying to exchange an appointment to President Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash. An appeals court later struck down five of his 18 convictions and ordered he be resentenced.

Meanwhile, Rod Blagojevich says he blames himself for the position his family is in and is working to make amends.

During Tuesday's resentencing, Blagojevich also told a federal judge via live video feed that being in prison since 2012 has taught him humility and given him more compassion for people and the difficulties they face. He said it's brought him closer to God.

The former Illinois governor thanked the judge for the chance to have his 14-year sentence reconsidered. He ended his statements saying he is a different person now and thinks he's "become someone who has learned a lot from the mistakes I have made."

Blagojevich's younger daughter, 13-year-old Annie, told the judge that she almost doesn't want to grow up because she wants to wait for her father to come home from prison. The former Illinois governor has been incarcerated since 2012 on corruption convictions.

Annie said she speaks to her father on the phone every night.

Twenty-year-old Amy Blagojevich told the court it's been difficult to remain close with her father. She said it's hard to talk with him about private things because strangers are always listening. She said "my dad used to be my best friend" and "he's never give up on us and we will never give up on him."

Former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich said she's "dumbfounded and flabbergasted" at U.S. District Judge James Zagel's "unwillingness to bestow even the smallest amount of leniency or mercy or kindness." She says she finds the judge's decision to uphold her husband's 14-year sentence "unusually cruel and heartless and unfair."

She went on to praise the couple's daughters, 20-year-old Amy and 13-year-old Annie, for making statements in court in support of their father. Patti Blagojevich said though that despite what their daughters said "the judge clearly made up his mind before it even started."