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Tag: Zagel

Judge Zagel: Blago Set and Sought Senate Seat Price

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday faced the first of two days of hearings for his sentencing on public corruption charges.

The usually chatty ex-governor had walked quietly out of his home earlier in the morning and into the courtroom via a passage blocked off to the media he once revelled in, a Chicago Tribune blog reported.  He declined to comment to the media.

Before the trial began Blagojevich bent over to kiss his wife Patti, saying “I love you.”

The defense argued Blagojevich did not gain any money from the allegations, while the prosecution pointed to “bountiful” evidence of what Blagojevich expected to gain.

Of the $1.5 million Blagojevich sought for the senate seat, Judge James Zagel said “”It was a price he put on it. The price he expected to receive,” tweeted Chicago Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney.

Blagojevich, arrested in December of 2008, was convicted of 1 of 24 counts — lying to an FBI agent — in his first trial. The second proved far more fruitful for the prosecution, which convicted him on 17 of 20 counts, including his famous attempt to sell or trade Barack Obama’s Senate seat for his own benefit.

During the feds probe of Blago, the FBI caught his now-famous line on tape: “I’ve got this thing, and it’s [expletive] golden,” he said of the Senate seat. Since his arrest state lawmakers approved a series of campaign finance reforms and transparency laws.

Before and during the trial Blagojevich repeatedly proclaimed his innocence in the national media, appearing regularly on news and talk shows, including The View. Many speculated early on that the media campaign could hurt him at sentencing.

“Throughout, on his television appearances, he showed a failure to accept responsibility for his actions. He maintained his innocence and seemed to be willing to do anything to continue maintaining that,” Rodger Heaton, a former U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois, previously told ticklethewire.com. “I think that will be one factor.”

Blagojevich served as a state legislator in both Washington and the Illinois capital of Springfield. He got his start in Chicago with the help of longtime city alderman Richard Mell, a powerful Democratic politician on the city’s Northwest Side. He was elected governor of Illinois in 2002 and impeached on January 9, 2009. He was banned in a separate vote from ever holding public office in the state of Illinois in the future.

Blagojevich Sentencing Delayed, Few Surprised

facebook photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

U.S. District Judge James Zagel has delayed the Oct. 6 sentencing for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich,  reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The sentencing has been delayed because Judge Zagel is set to start a trial on October 3 for William Cellini, a Springfield power broker who himself is alleged to have extorted campaign contributions for Blagojevich.  That trial is expected to last beyond the October 6.

Blagojevich was convicted on 17 of 20 counts at his retrial, including trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president. The first trial ended with Blago being convicted on only 1 of 24 counts, with the jury deadlocking on the remainder.

Prosecutors are expected to seek a 30-year prison sentence, reports McClatchy.

The delay comes as no surprise to most following the case. Speaking to ticklethewire.com last week about a related story, legal expert and frequent television news commentator Jami Floyd predicted the delay because of the Cellini trial.

“A judge who’s in the middle of a big trial is not going to delay that trial for sentencing — no matter whom the defendant is,” she said. “I’m betting the former governor is going to have to get in line, with everyone else, to wait for the Judge’s calendar to open up.”

Blagojevich’s attorney Shelly Sorosky seemed to expect the delay too. “It’s not going to happen,” the Sun-Times had quoted him as saying before the announcement. “[To stop the Cellini trial] would taint the Cellini jury. I’m quite certain it will be continued,” he said.

A new sentencing date has yet to be set.