Rod Blagojevich sentencing: Does he deserve at least 15 years in prison?
Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois, appears in court Tuesday for sentencing. Prosecutors are pushing for a 15- to 20-year sentence, and they have the upper hand, experts say.
(Page 2 of 2)
Patrick Cotter, a former US prosecutor now in private practice in Chicago, says the defense calculations are “just wrong,” and that he suspects Zagel will sentence Blagojevich to 15 years. The reason: The federal trial of former Blagojevich fundraiser and Democratic Party power broker Tony Rezko resulted in a 10-year sentence two weeks ago, creating a baseline number for the Blagojevich sentencing.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Blagojevich will receive a lengthier sentence than Mr. Rezko, because the former governor’s case involved an abuse of the public trust, a longer period of criminal behavior, scheming involving more money, and a conviction of perjury, Mr. Cotter says.
The final determining factor is that, unlike Rezko, Blagojevich “has never said he’s sorry and never expressed any remorse,” says Cotter. “Based on his filing, he appears to feel he’s a victim, and he’ll still get up tomorrow and say he never did anything wrong.”
“He’s going to get 15 years because he was the governor and he engaged, for many, many years, in a long and fairly outrageous course of corrupt conduct in a grotesquely flagrant way. He did it when everyone in the state knew he was under investigation,” says Cotter. “He was just sort of out of control.”
However, some say a 15-year sentence would be unjust given that Blagojevich has no criminal history and is not considered a threat to society.
Joseph DiBenedetto, a defense attorney in New York City who once represented imprisoned crime boss Peter Gotti, says 15-year sentences are usually reserved for “people who are involved in crimes of violence or in a situation where they’re involved in financial fraud where the dollar amount embezzled is a significant number.”
Mr. DiBenedetto calls the prosecution’s recommendation “excessive,” especially when sentencing is designed to impose deterrence.
“Five to seven years has the same deterrent effect as somebody charged 15 years, especially for somebody who is not a repeat offender, who made a mistake, and who paid dearly for their mistake,” he says.
In Wednesday’s sentencing, Zagel will decide whether to take Blagojevich into custody that day or to name a future date at which Blagojevich will be required to surrender to authorities.
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.