Appeals Court Upholds 14 Year Sentence for Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich

Public corruption cases don’t come much bigger than that of Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois.

Blagojevich received a 14-year sentence on corruption charges after he was accused of attempting to “sell” the U.S. Senate seat then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was vacating following his election as president in November 2008.

In the fourth year of his imprisonment, Blagojevich sought to have his sentence commuted by the Justice Department. However, when Obama made his final grants of clemency shortly before leaving office, Blagojevich’s name was not on the list. He is not due to be released from prison until 2024.

Judge upheld sentence on former Illinois governor

Judge upheld sentence on former Illinois governor

His appeal also failed in April, the Sun Times reported. The newspaper reported the appeal was heard by the same three judges in the U.S. Appeals Court who said in 2015 it was not possible to call 168 months in prison too high for the former governor’s crimes.

The court quickly affirmed the 14-year prison sentence that Blagojevich was given in 2015 by U.S. District Judge James Zagel. It took the panel just three days after hearing arguments to announce the decision. Previously, the three judges took almost two years to give their answer.

What Was The Basis of Rod Blagojevich’s Appeal?

Lawyers for the 60-year-old former governor said Zagel should have given him a break. They presented letters from more than 100 fellow inmates who said Blagojevich is a changed man.

U.S. Appellate Judge Frank Easterbrook was unmoved. He wrote:

“Blagojevich’s treatment of fellow inmates may show that outside of office he is an admirable person, but the court was entitled to impose punishment that reflects how Blagojevich behaved when he had a different menu of opportunities and to deter those who hold office today,”

Lawyers for Blagojevich have maintained he was prosecuted for something that isn’t a crime and amounted to political deal-making rather than corruption.

Blagojevich has attempted to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court refused to hear from him early last year. 

The Department of Justice has ramped up its efforts to prosecute officials on public corruption charges in recent years, but these cases are always complex and open to challenge.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated out the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell who was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2014.

McDonnell, was found guilty of violating the law by receiving, gifts, money, and loans from the CEO of a Virginia-based company, in exchange for acts interpreted as favorable to Williams and his business. The justices said prosecutors were taking an over broad approach to what constitutes ‘official action’ under federal corruption law.

If you have been charged with corruption in Illinois, you should contact one of our experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation or call us at call us at (312) 229-0008.