Politics

Judge: Blagojevich sentencing expected Wednesday

Friday, December 02, 2011

Rod Blagojevich will probably learn his fate next Wednesday, according to the judge presiding over the former governor's sentencing on corruption charges.

Judge James Zagel said Friday that he expects the hearing status for Blagojevich, who was convicted on 18 charges of corruption- including the sale of a U.S. Senate seat, to take two days next week. Judge Zagel set aside both Tuesday and Wednesday of next week for the hearing and said, "I will not pass sentence on Tuesday."

Some law experts say Blagojevich, 54, will likely get around 10 to 12 years in prison. However, prosecutors are asking for a 15- to 20-year sentence in a 21-page document filed earlier this week.

Blagojevich's defense lawyers argue that a 3- to 4-year prison sentence would follow federal guidelines, but said he should get even less. They've also argued that they should be allowed to play phone conversations that were recorded by the government that they think would be beneficial to the Blagojevich's defense.

"We've asked for about 20 tapes to be played, and the government is agreeing to some of these and we have to resolve it," Sheldon Sorosky, Blagojevich attorney, said.

The Blagojevich team won't say what specific tapes they wish to play, what's on them, or, more significantly, how those tapes are supposed to impact the judge's decision on sentencing. Judge Zagel has yet to rule on the request. He has said before and again on Friday that recordings of standalone conversations without context and testimony prove nothing.

On Tuesday, the former governor will get a chance to address the judge. His lawyers are offering no preview of content nor saying what they may have advised their client to say.

"Rod Blagojevich is his own man and he will say what he feels is most appropriate," Sorosky said.

How soon after the sentencing Blagojevich will report to prison is up to Judge Zagel.

"Of course, that's the judge's call as to when he actually goes to jail. The judge could step him back on the day of sentencing and say, 'You're going to jail today, did you bring your toothbrush?'" Professor Leonard Cavise, DePaul College of Law, said.

Blagojevich was found guilty on 18 charges in two different trials. In the first trial in August 2010, jurors convicted him on one count and were hung on 23 others. In the re-trial in June 2011, he was convicted on 17 charges , found not guilty on one, and the jurors were hung on two others.

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