I-Team

Longest Ill. public corruption term not Blago's

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 14-year prison sentence that was given to ex-governor Rod Blagojevich is not Illinois' longest for a public official convicted of corruption.

In Thursday night's intelligence report: the Cook County judge who was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

Judge Thomas Maloney holds the distinction of having Illinois' lengthiest federal prison sentence in a public corruption case.

Maloney was convicted in 1993 of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to fix three murder cases, and like Blagojevich will do, Maloney served 12 years in the penitentiary.

"The spartan life and the asceticism of it all doesn't bother me. It's the falsity that eats at me," said Maloney, describing life in prison.

In 1999, when I interviewed Maloney, he wasn't even halfway through his 15-year sentence.

Perhaps no one in Illinois could offer Rod Blagojevich a prison perspective better than this man.

"The worst of imprisonment is separation from your family. That's the worst part," said Maloney.

There are differences between the ex-governor and the ex-judge: in an 11th hour courtroom plea for mercy, Blagojevich admitted to wrongdoing. Maloney never did.

Asked if he definitively took no money to throw cases, Maloney said: "Absolutely I say that. I say that absolutely. I never did."

Unlike Blagojevich, Maloney despised the limelight, not only ignoring questions during his Operation Greylord corruption trial, but the one-time prize fighter would even jab at news crews.

He was 69 years old when he went away serving a prison term that some considered a life sentence.

"It was intended to be, which is contrary to law, but nonetheless, it was very clearly intended to be," said Maloney. "Well you have to accept your daily existence. Some people have a great difficulty in doing that, but I don't."

Maloney sent six men to death row during his years on the bench on Cook County. After his own conviction, Maloney was labeled the nation's "most corrupt judge." He did much of his time at a federal prison in central California.

In 2008, Maloney was released after serving 12 years. He died a few months later in a nursing home.

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