Chicago: Ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday for trying to auction off President Barack Obama`s vacated US Senate seat and a host of other corruption charges.
The Democratic governor was arrested in the midst of what
prosecutors called a "political corruption crime spree" just
weeks after Obama`s historic November 2008 election.
He was convicted of 17 corruption counts in June after
his first trial resulted in a hung jury on all but one of the
"The harm here is not measured in the value of money and
property," Judge James Zagel told Blagojevich in handing down
"The harm is the erosion of the public trust in
government; (people`s) confidence in and trust in government."
The expletive-laden transcripts of Blagojevich`s secretly
recorded conversations and his subsequent antics created
fascinating political theatre.
While Obama managed to emerge untainted, the scandal
shone a spotlight on the state`s corruption-filled political
scene and cast a shadow on his early days in office.
Five of the past nine Illinois governors have been
indicted or arrested for fraud or bribery, and Blagojevich`s
predecessor, Republican George Ryan, is currently serving a
six-and-a-half year jail term for fraud and racketeering.
Blagojevich`s lawyers urged Zagel not to make an example
of Blagojevich, noting that Blagojevich never lined his
pockets like other recently convicted politicians, but instead
was merely convicted of pushing for campaign donations and a
plum job in exchange for political favours.