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Tag: Rod Blagojevich

Blago Has Drinking Problem; Could Go to Fed Prison Rehab

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s certainly understandable that ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich would be under a lot of stress. His travails began in  2008 when he was arrested on a number of public corruption charges. Since then, it’s been all down hill.

He was removed from office, and he faced two high-profile, highly-stressful public corruption trials.  Then earlier this month, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Apparently, all the pressure has gotten to him.

Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Blago has become addicted to alcohol.

“Rod can’t sleep without drinking,” a source told Sneed. “So he drinks himself into a condition to do so, and it became an addiction. Considering what he has been through for the past few years, it became a problem. He’s not addicted to sleeping pills or anything like that.”

The Sun-Times reports that the sentencing judge has recommended that the chatty ex-governor go to a prison rehab program.

 

Blago’s Biggest Crime: He Thought He Was Smarter Than All of Us

Blagojevich/file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ok, so I wouldn’t have given ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich 14 years in prison for his infinite arrogance and his corrupt ways. Ten or 12 would have sufficed.

That being said, I can’t say he didn’t deserve getting the toughest sentence of any crooked Illinois governor. He never stopped yapping and denying and lying. He went on Letterman and the View and the Daily Show and came up with more trash than a mobbed-up sanitation firm.

The worst part about it all is that he assumed we were all dumber than him.

It was obvious the sentencing Judge James Zagel wasn’t dumber than Blago. And it was easy to see from press reports from the two trials that the judge didn’t appreciate his shenanigans.

In Blago’s first trial, the prosecution screwed up. It made the case far too complicated for the jury. The jury came back with one conviction out of 24 counts. Blago and his attorneys had sense of enough not to put Blago on the stand.

But in the second trial, prosecutors convicted Blago on 17 of 20 counts. Blago took the stand — the arrogant guy that he is — hoping to dupe the jury. That didn’t work.

Blago turns 55 on Dec. 10. He’s set to report to prison in February. He’ll be gone a long long time.

I feel sorry for him. Even though he has a law degree and served in Congress and was governor, he wasn’t a very smart guy.

And the dumbest thing he did was assume he was a smart guy — smarter than all the rest of us.

Column: Prosecutors May Be Overreaching in Recommending 15-20 Years for Blago

 

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In political corruption cases, how much prison time is enough?

Fed prosecutors in the case of Rod Blagojevich — the world’s most talkative ex-governor — are recommending that he get 15 to 20 years at sentencing, which is set for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Yes, Blagojevich was a crook with a stupid chip implanted somewhere in that brain of his underneath that helmet-head of hair. But I think a 15 to 20 year sentence is excessive.

What’s the point of piling on?

Blago, who turns 55 on Dec. 10, four days after sentencing, would be 75 by the time he got released from prison if he were to be sentenced to 20 years. If he gets 10 years, he’ll be 65 by the time he goes free.  It’s not as if, when he gets out, the public will be in danger.

A prison term in this case is supposed to provide sufficient punishment and act as a deterrent to other crooked-leaning pols.

I think 10 to 12 years, as a Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Brown suggests, does the trick.

A sentence of 10-12 is enough to discourage some — certainly not all — crooked politicians from committing crimes.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Feds Want Blago to Serve 15 to 20 Years

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fed prosecutors in Chicago want ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich to go away to prison for a long long time.

The Associated Press reports that prosecutors said in court papers filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago that Blago deserves a sentence of 15 to 20 years, suggesting he misused his power in office “from the very moment he became governor.”

AP reported that Blago’s attorneys argued for leniency in court papers, saying he was “an intrinsically good, kind, and decent man.”

Sentencing is set for next Tuesday.

Blagojevich was convicted in his first trial on one of 24 counts.  The jury deadlocked on the remaining counts. In the second trial, he was convicted on 17 or 20 public corruption counts.

To read more click here.

 

Blago Won’t Vanish Quietly; Wants a 3rd Trial

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

No suprise: Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich won’t ride off into the sunset — or head to prison — quitely.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Blagojevich, who was convicted last month of 17 of 20 public corruption charges in his retrial, filed a motion Monday for a retrial, alleging judicial bias and error that helped the prosecution “strip away the effective aspects of the defense case.”

“Virtually every error in this trial stemmed from the fact that this Court deprived Blagojevich of the presumption of innocence and exhibited bias against the defense,” the motion asserted, according to the Trib. “The Court formed a closed mind to the evidence and made findings of fact.”

The motion said that “the government did not only benefit from the first trial, it used every opportunity to strip away the effective aspects of the defense case. … The Court rubber-stamped the government’s requests.”

Column: What Does the Blago Verdict Mean for Chicago U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald?

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Soon we’ll get the verdict in the Blago II trial and we’ll start to evaluate what it means for Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury begins the fifth day of deliberations on Thursday.

The first trial did not bode so well for Fitzgerald, the rock star among U.S. Attorneys. The jury convicted ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on only 1 of 24 counts — and that was for lying to the FBI. It wasn’t even a count central to the key charges of shaking down folks and trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat.

Some argued it was still a victory — particularly those who know Fitzgerald well. They said a felony conviction is a felony conviction, even if it’s on just one count.

I disagree. I say in order for this to be considered a victory for Fitzgerald and his prosecutors, they have to get a conviction on a central count. A conviction on key counts would provide some vindication for Fitzgerald.

What would another embarrassing outcome mean for Fitzgerald?

Probably not a whole lot.

Another embarrassing outcome might tarnish his star power a little. But people forget. And he’s had a lot of big victories in big cases in Chicago. And no one can forget that he came to Washington for a stint as  a dragon slayer — as a special prosecutor —  and convicted Scooter Libby in 2007.

The first Blago trial may have hurt his chances when the White House was recently  considering a replacement for FBI Dir. Robert S. Mueller III (though that has become a moot point since President Obama now wants to keep Mueller on for two more years beyond the 10-year term).

Interestingly, FBI agents who, in general, prefer an ex-agent as a director rather than a prosecutor — seemed Ok with Fitzgerald as a potential replacement.

Nonetheless, the talk inside the Beltway was that the White House wasn’t wild about  the swagger — very Eliot Ness like — that he displayed before the media  when he first announced the charges against Blago in December 2008.

The swagger along with the embarrassing outcome didn’t help. This White House seems to like Robert Mueller’s low-key, fly-under-the-radar style.

So in the end, whatever the outcome in Blago II, Fitzgerald will remain the U.S. Attorney in Chicago.

And frankly, whatever the outcome,  the Blago case won’t short circuit many of his options in the future –including, who knows, even  a run for governor, the office once held by Blago himself.

Prosecutor to Blago: “You Are a Convicted Liar, Correct?”

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Loaded for bear, federal prosecutors began their cross examination Thursday of the ever-chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich with a very blunt question.

“Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar asked, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“Yes,” answered Blagojevich, according to the Trib. His lawyers tried to object.

The question was in reference to his first trial in which prosecutors convicted him on only 1 of 24 counts — lying to the FBI. The jury was deadlocked on the remaining 23 counts.

Prosecutors on Thursday tried to portray Blago as a slippery sort, the Trib reported.

To read more click here.

No Surprise Here; Blago Testimony Angers Judge


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If you figured the testimony of ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich at his retrial on corruption charges in downtown Chicago would be filled with shenanigans and piss off the judge, well…. you guessed right.

First off, the U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Wednesday got angry after Blago tried “smuggling” in evidence that had been barred. One example: Blagojevich suggested to jurors that the government had deleted portions of recorded calls that were favorable to him, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“This is a deliberate effort by this witness to raise something that he can’t raise, to say something that was good was eliminated,” Zagel said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “This is not fair. This is a repeated example of a defendant who wants to say something, by smuggling [it] in.”

“Do you understand what I have just said?” an irritated Zagel asked the defense. “Is that clear?”

Later, outside the presence of the jury, the judge berated defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein, accusing him of using stall tactics so prosecutors couldn’t cross exam Blago til next week, the Sun-Times reported.

“It’s a source of real concern,” the judge said. “I am not uncertain in my conclusion that you are running the clock.”

Zagel said he would give the prosecution the option of questioning Blago on Thursday regardless of when the defense concluded its direct examination, the Sun-Times reported.