Rod Blagojevich broke his silence from prison last year, vowing he “must fight on” and “what is at stake is nothing less than the rule of law.”
Late Monday night, federal prosecutors threw those words back in the former governor’s face as he nears a key turning point in the battle for his freedom. They wrote in a court filing that Blagojevich’s comments “demonstrate a complete lack of acceptance of responsibility.”
“In the absence of acceptance, it cannot be said that the defendant has been rehabilitated or that he is deserving of leniency,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Riggs Bonamici wrote.
Prosecutors want U.S. District Judge James Zagel to reinstate Blagojevich’s original 14-year prison sentence at a hearing next month, scheduled after an appeals court tossed five of the former governor’s 18 criminal convictions last year and ordered his resentencing.
Blagojevich’s lawyers are hoping instead for a five-year prison sentence, which could quickly spring the former politician, who has already spent more than four years in a Colorado prison. And in a memo filed late Monday, they said they expect prosecutors will change their minds after reading several letters written by fellow inmates describing Blagojevich as a model prisoner.
Appellate attorney Leonard Goodman also insisted that the charges tossed by the appellate court “were the centerpiece of the Government’s case and were the only charges brought against Blagojevich that contained allegations that he sought a personal benefit.”
“The Government simply refuses to acknowledge that, unlike every other elected official prosecuted for political corruption, Blagojevich never took a cash bribe; he never accepted a gift from a political patron, such as an expensive watch or a car or a free vacation; and he never took money from his campaign fund to spend on himself or his family,” Goodman wrote.
Blagojevich’s legal team filed 141 pages of supportive letters this month, mostly from fellow inmates who have come to know Blagojevich as “The Gov.” They described him as a humble and thoughtful prisoner who spends his time in prison reading, running and exercising at the gym.
“Blagojevich’s number one priority during his four plus years of incarceration has been to repair and mitigate the harm that his actions have done to his wife and children,” Goodman wrote in a memo to the judge earlier this month. “Blagojevich speaks to his family nearly every evening.”
Blagojevich’s Aug. 9 re-sentencing hearing could mark the former governor’s first public appearance since he surrendered to the federal facility in March 2012. Last time around, prosecutors asked Zagel to send Blagojevich to prison for 15 to 20 years. Instead, Zagel handed Blagojevich a 14-year prison term.
SOURCE: CBS Chicago / STMW