Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rod Blagojevich Offers No Apologies at Sentencing Hearing

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rod Blagojevich Offers No Apologies at Sentencing Hearing

Article excerpt

Witnesses testified Tuesday that Rod Blagojevich had good intentions at heart and that he received bad advice from aides and advisers. The judge disagreed, saying Blagojevich 'was not a supplicant.'

The federal judge conducting the sentencing hearing of Rod Blagojevich Tuesday heard from many people stumping on his behalf why the impeached Illinois governor should only receive the minimum prison time.

But he never heard a direct apology from Mr. Blagojevich, which most federal experts agree is crucial in getting a lesser sentence than federal guidelines suggest.

"He's expressed no remorse. He says he's sorry he got caught, he's sorry his family got hurt, and he's sorry he's not governor anymore," says Patrick Cotter, a former US prosecutor now in private practice in Chicago. "If you're not sorry, don't say anything at all because all it does is antagonize the judge."

Blagojevich was convicted of 18 counts of corruption related to the attempt to curry President Obama's former US Senate seat for favors. The prosecution won the convictions over two separate trials, the second of which ended this summer. Prosecutors recommend Blagojevich receive 15 to 20 years in prison. US District Judge James Zagel says he will issue his sentencing verdict Wednesday.

In the meantime, the defense ushered into the courtroom several people who told the judge Blagojevich had good intentions at heart and that he received bad advice from aides and advisers in discussions heard on FBI wiretapped recordings.

The ex-governor "is a kind and compassionate man who is sincere in his desire to help people," said defense attorney Carolyn Gurland. To demonstrate, she introduced a Chicago pediatrician who told the judge how a children's health insurance program that Blagojevich created as governor became a lifesaver during the subsequent recession.

Ms. Gurland also stressed that Blagojevich received no money from his scheming. She described him as not knowing what he was doing was wrong and therefore assuming "his conduct was within the bounds of the law. …

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