Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence upheld, will stay in Littleton prison

CHICAGO — A federal judge Tuesday upheld former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

Blagojevich was originally sentenced in 2011 after his conviction for trying to exchange an appointment to President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash.

An appeals court ordered a resentencing after striking down five of his 18 convictions.

Blagojevich, who is four years into a 14-year sentence imposed after he was convicted of corruption in two separate trials, appeared at the resentencing hearing Tuesday via closed-circuit television from the Englewood Federal Prison in Littleton.

Blagojevich, 59, sought a sentence reduction after an appeals court last year threw out five of his 18 convictions. The appeals court upheld others relating to soliciting campaign contributions for naming someone to the empty seat.

Prosecutors opposed a reduced sentence for the former governor.

Blagojevich, a Democrat, was accused of trying to profit as he considered whom to appoint to succeed Obama after he vacated his Senate seat to move to the White House.

He was convicted of corruption after a jury returned 18 guilty verdicts against him.

Federal prosecutors had originally sought a sentence of 15 to 20 years but his lawyers called that excessive and asked the judge for leniency, even as they admitted for the first time that crimes were committed.

He was found guilty of 10 counts involving wire fraud and another 10 involving extortion and bribery, and acquitted on one count of bribery. The jury was unable to reach verdicts on two counts of attempted extortion.

Blagojevich became the second consecutive Illinois governor convicted of corruption. Former Gov. George Ryan is serving time in federal prison.

Blagojevich was taken into federal custody in December 2008, less than two years into his second term as governor. A federal grand jury indicted in him April 2009.

The allegations prompted his impeachment by Illinois’ House of Representatives and his removal from office by the state Senate in 2009.

At the time of his arrest, prosecutors said court-authorized wiretaps caught Blagojevich offering Obama’s Senate seat in exchange for personal gain, including a job with a nonprofit or union organization, corporate board posts for his wife, campaign contributions or a post in Obama’s administration.

Blagojevich’s defense argued that he just liked to talk and that he ended up with nothing.

After his removal from office, the former Cook County, Illinois, assistant prosecutor, state representative and Golden Gloves boxer remained in the public eye, appearing in a Chicago comedy show, releasing an autobiography, and competing on the TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.”