Patti Blagojevich begs judge: "Please be merciful"

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Former Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich wrote to a judge before her husband's resentencing asking him to be merciful. (WLS)

In an eleventh hour letter to U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel filed on the eve of her husband's re-sentencing, former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich wrote "I am pleading with you, indeed begging you, to please be merciful. The future of my children, family, and husband, lies within your power and judgment."

On Tuesday, Zagel is scheduled to determine the fate of corrupt Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has been locked up for four years of a 14 year sentence at a penitentiary near Denver, Colorado.

In the impassioned letter pleading for a reduced sentence and early release from prison, Patti Blagojevich said the couple "have spent over 1,200 hours talking on the telephone" and that she visited him more than 20 times.

"Why do we put in the effort?" she asks Judge Zagel. "We put in the effort because Rod is a great husband and father and he is worth the wait. Through the force of his dedication to our family, he has remained relevant in our lives."

Click here to read Patti Blagojevich's letter in full.

Calling the disgraced governor an "eternal optimist," Mrs. Blagojevich spills her heart, admitting that "Rod has helped me through many dark days, when the responsibilities seemed overwhelming and unending. The unfortunate fact, though, is that all the phone calls and emails and visits cannot fill the void of his absence. They cannot come close to replacing his physical presence in our lives."

The typewritten letter, nearly two pages long, recites a litany of milestone events that Mr. Blagojevich has missed because he is behind a curtain of razor wire at the Federal Correctional Center-Englewood in Colorado. Much of the agony she describes involves the couple's two daughters Amy and Annie.

"Amy will never graduate high school again, or go to prom, or have her first day of college. For Amy, who is turning 20 days before the hearing, even the good memories from before our trouble started have been spoiled by what came after."

Daughter Amy is expected to testify on her father's behalf Tuesday in federal court, as is her sister Annie.

"As Annie's early childhood begins to fade away, her ability to have a normal relationship with her father also diminishes as he has now been imprisoned for one third of her life" Patti Blagojevich writes. "What is hard for us, is torture for Rod. Rod knows the short window of Amy and Annie's childhoods is rapidly closing, and not being able to be here to provide for, protect, and support them properly is the worst punishment you could inflict upon him."

Judge Zagel originally sentenced to Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in prison for committing a variety of corrupt acts including the attempted sale of Barack Obama's Illinois U.S. Senate seat. An appellate court threw out five of the conviction counts against him and ordered the state's 40th governor re-sentenced.

Blagojevich's attorneys are asking for a new sentence of just five years, which would ensure his freedom sometime before the end of 2016.

The government insists that Blagojevich deserves just what he got the first time, and wants Judge Zagel to re-issue his original 14 year sentence.

In her letter obtained Monday evening, Patti Blagojevich said the defrocked leader has had to stomach enough.

"I know he has suffered profoundly knowing the harm he has done to his family, and that suffering grows more and more with every year that passes. I know it affects him more than the loss of his office, status, and liberty all put together. Rod has a quote from the bible that he is fond of that speaks about suffering being a fire that cleanses you of impurities, just as it does with metal in a forge."

She says that Blagojevich has been adequately punished, has learned his lesson and implores Judge Zagel to let him go. She hangs the fate of her family on Zagel.

"The future of my children, family, and husband, lies within your power and judgment. Please reunite me with my husband of almost 26 years so that we can go on to love and support each other, and raise our children together. Please let Rod come home and be the father that our daughters need and deserve. Please give Annie the chance for a normal happy childhood, that has slipped away for Amy. I am pleading with you, indeed begging you, to please be merciful. Sincerely, Patti Blagojevich."

Patti Blagojevich is not scheduled to testify at Tuesday's hearing but is expected to restate the emotional plea in her letter following the sentencing hearing.

Her husband is not appearing personally in the Chicago courtroom but will be participating via video-conference from the Colorado prison.

Blagojevich's sister-in-law, Chicago Ald. Deborah Mell (33rd Ward), also sent Judge Zagel a letter urging mercy. "The man I know is very different than the one who is caricatured in the press" she wrote.

"The circumstances surrounding Rod's indictment, trial, and eventual sentencing has devastated the lives of my sister and their two beautiful children ... Their family will never be the same; the trajectory of their lives forever altered."

Ald. Mell then offers up the remorse that legal experts suggest Rod Blagojevich must display on Tuesday if he has any hope of a substantial sentence reduction: "I know deep down in my heart that Rod will forever be regretful of the circumstances that have caused him to be incarcerated in the first place."
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