Blagojevich's Sentence Could Set New Mark

 
Illinoisans are used to seeing their former governors land in prison, but Rod Blagojevich may be going away for a lot longer than his predecessors.

Blagojevich, who served from 2003 to 2009, was found guilty on 18 corruption-related charges. Federal prosecutors want a judge to sentence him to as much as two decades of prison time. "Sadly, Illinois has a history of corruption in government," the prosecutors wrote. "The sentences imposed on previous criminals for public corruption crimes were not sufficient to dissuade Blagojevich from engaging in a myriad of criminal acts."

Chicago public radio station WBEZ notes that the 15- to 20-year recommendation would be for a far longer period far longer than that of three other Illinois governors who headed to jail, and longer than the sentence for other corrupt Illinois politicians, too. Blagojevich's immediate gubernatorial predecessor, George Ryan, is serving a 6 1/2 year sentence that is expected to end in July 2013.

Blagojevich's two-day sentencing hearing begins Monday (December 5). The judge's decision could depend on how the defiant ex-governor handles himself in court, writes The Associated Press .

"The former governor has never wavered in insisting on his innocence, from his celebrity turns on national television to his gabby days on the witness stand," the AP writes. "But even a hint of obstinacy in court could anger Judge James Zagel and scuttle any hopes Blagojevich harbors of a lesser sentence."

The wire service reports that most observers expect Zagel will give Blagojevich about a 10-year sentence, but that Blagojevich and his legal team have not yet adapted a conciliatory approach.

The Chicago Tribune notes that this is not the first high-stakes performance for the former governor. "Blagojevich has had dress rehearsals for this sort of reckoning, first trying to talk state senators out of removing him from office in 2009, then testifying in his own defense last spring at his corruption retrial," the Tribune recalls. "Neither went over well."
 
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