Former Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich pled for mercy and got the book thrown at him. Judge Zagel ignored Blago's pleas about his family being ruined and how sorry he was and slapped a 14 year sentence on the impeached Democrat for trying to sell Barack Obama's vacated senate seat, bribes and pay to play kickbacks, and lying to federal agents.
Before pronouncing sentence, Zagel told Blagojevich he had abused the public trust. "When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily repaired," Zagel said.
The judge said Blagojevich was clearly responsible for his crimes, not his underlings as the former governor had argued. "He marched them and ruined a few of their careers and more than that in the process," the judge said.
While Zagel said he was sympathetic to how the sentence would affect Blagojevich's daughters, he asked, "Why did devotion as a father not deter him? ... Now it is too late."
Zagel announced the sentence after a somber Blagojevich, his voice cracking with emotion, pleaded for a lighter sentence with a round of apologies to the judge, to the jurors who convicted him, to the public and to his family.
"I'm here convicted of crimes. The jury decided I was guilty. I am accepting of it. I acknowledge it, and I of course am unbelievably sorry for it," Blagojevich said.
"I want to apologize to the people of Illinois, to the court, for the mistakes I have made...I never set out to break the law. I never set out to cross lines."
Blagojevich said he thought he was acting in accord with the law when he did things for which he later was convicted.
Blagojevich will be eligible for parole in 12 years.