Today former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich will know his fate. Judge James Zagel is set to come down with a sentence for the disgraced politician later today after a final day of hearing arguments from both sides of the case.
The second and final day of Blagojevich's sentencing hearing has just gotten underway. The first day of the hearing was tough for Blagojevich, with his legal team admitting, for the first time, that the politician did indeed break the law. Letters written by his wife Patti and eldest daughter were read in court, eliciting emotional reactions from the Blagojevich family.
Here's a full round up of Day 1 of the sentencing hearing from ABC 7:
Check back with Progress Illinois as we update this post with the latest from the final day of the Blagojevich sentencing hearing.
UPDATE 1 (11:02 a.m.) Blagojevich's defense team is arguing that the former governor is a lesser criminal when compared to imprisoned ex-governor George Ryan. "Mr. Blagojevich doesn't even come close to what Mr. Ryan was convicted of. It doesn't even come close," said attorney Aaron Goldstein. Zagel is seemingly over Goldstein's presentation, as he has gone over time, telling him "Pick your last best line."
Goldstein opted for "Mr. Ryan is much worse."
It's now Blagojevich's turn to talk directly to Zagel.
UPDATE 2 (11:10 a.m.) Blagojevich is doling out a plethora of apologies as he begins speaking to Judge Zagel, saying he is sorry to his brother, family, prosecutors, the judge himself, and the people of Illinois. "I caused it all, I'm not blaming anybody. I was the Governor and I should have known better. I am so incredibly sorry," said Blagojevich.
He also apologized for playing out the case in the media.
UPDATE 3 (11:58 a.m.) Blagojevich wrapped up his speech to Judge Zagel, ending it with "please have mercy." Blagojevich also discussed the future of his daughters in his final words to Zagel prior to sentencing, saying "I've ruined their innocence. Their last name isn't Smith. They can't hide. They have to face the world knowing their father is a convicted criminal."
Also of note, as pointed out by ABC 7's Ben Bradley, only one historical figure got the distinction of being named in Blagojevich's final plea for mercy. Alexander Hamilton was the figure that the usually-loquacious Blagojevich name dropped during his speech. Blagojevich's testimony during the retrial was littered with historical references and name dropping, during which he noted that Hamilton was his "man-crush."
After thanking the former governor for his words, Judge Zagel called a 20-minute break, which has run long. After the break, Zagel plans to come back with a sentence for the fallen politician as well as a few choice words for Blagojevich. There is word that the break is ending very soon.
UPDATE 4 (12:00 p.m.) Judge James Zagel is back in the courtroom and will deliver his sentence for Blagojevich momentarily.
UPDATE 5 (12:12 p.m.) Judge Zagel: "The vast majority of facts in this case were not disputed. It's very difficult to dispute what was on the recordings." The judge says the sentencing range for Blagojevich's crimes is 12.5 years to 15.5 years.
UPDATE 6 (12:17 p.m.) Zagel comes down hard on corruption by state governors, according to a CBS Chicago tweet: "abuse of the office of governor is more damaging than the abuse of any other office in the U.S. except President."
UPDATE 7 (12:21 p.m.) ABC 7 News is reporting that if Blagojevich is sentenced to more than 10 years, he will likely be sent to a minimum or medium security prison in either Leavenworth, Kansas or Terre Haute, Indiana, the latter of which is where former Illinois governor George Ryan is currently serving his sentence.
UPDATE 8 (12:31 p.m.) While Judge Zagel said he accepts Blagojevich's apology, he is still giving him quite the tongue-lashing:
Your personality is not suitable for public service. The impatience. The endless talking. And the need for praise.
Zagel also explained why he keeps calling Blagojevich "governor", saying that is what he was elected to do, but did not do it, according to Chuck Goudie of ABC 7.
UPDATE 9 (12:34 p.m.) Former governor Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in prison, or 168 months, and has also been fined $20,000.
UPDATE 10 (12:39 p.m.) Blagojevich, who is already having money problems, will be able to pay the fine in installments. Blagojevich will have to surrender for his sentence on February 16. Having to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, Blagojevich will undoubtedly be in prison for more than 11 years.
UPDATE 11 (1:41 p.m.) Local politicians are sounding off on the Blagojevich sentencing. Here's what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald had to say: "Blagojevich betrayed the trust and faith that Illinois voters placed in him, feeding great public frustration, cynicism and disengagement among citizens. People have the right to expect that their elected leaders will honor the oath they swear to, and this sentence shows that the justice system will stand up to protect their expectations."
Fox Chicago news has a rundown of comments on the sentencing from a number of local politicians.
UPDATE 12 (1:46 p.m.) Blagojevich has started talking to the media. He started out with a quote from Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If."
UPDATE 13 (1:49 p.m.) With a tearful Patti by his side, here's what Blagojevich had to say to the media today after his 14-year federal prison sentence came down:
Okay, I'm not going to say anything about anything except something very, very brief. [At this point Patti interjected with, "we're not taking any questions."] Uh, Rudyard Kipling in his poem 'If', among the things he wrote was 'If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same." Patti and I, and especially me, this is a time to be strong, this is a time to fight through adversity, this is a time for me to be strong for my children, be strong for Patti. And this is also a time for Patti and me to get home, so we can explain to our kids, our babies Amy and Annie, what happened, what all this means and where we're going from here. So we're going to keep fighting on through this adversity and, uh, see you soon.
Blagojevich and Patti then jumped into a waiting car and headed to their Ravenswood Manor home.
UPDATE 14 (2:13 p.m.) A breast cancer survivor runs up to Blagojevich as he tries to enter his home this afternoon with emotional words of support: "I'm a breast cancer patient. You helped me. I got Medicaid thanks to you. I support you and your family ... God Bless you." A few seconds later she added, "I went through chemo and radiation. You can do it, dude. My brother was in Joliet . You can do it, man. Okay?!"
Blagojevich responded with a "thank you." He then signed some autographs for other supporters waiting outside of his home before going inside.
UPDATE 15 (2:47 p.m.) Blagojevich will have to pay $1,800 in special assessment fees by Friday, which is also when attorneys in the case will go back to court to tell Judge Zagel where they think the former governor should serve out his sentence.