Blagojevich could get 30 years in prison

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich pauses as he talks with reporters at the Federal Court building after the judge handed the case to the jury in his corruption trial Thursday, June 9, 2011 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

September 15, 2011 9:37:57 AM PDT
Former Governor Rod Blagojevich is scheduled to be sentenced next month. Sources confirm federal prosecutors could recommend he serve 30 years to life in prison.

Blagojevich was convicted on 17 counts of corruption. That includes charges he tried to sell President Obama's former Senate seat.

Experts agree he probably won't be spending three decades in jail.

"Thirty to life is never a sentence I've heard of in the context of public corruption. If that is taken literally, it would be unprecedented," said Patrick Collins, former federal prosecutor.

Prosecutors are expected to argue the former Governor betrayed the public trust, lied on the witness stand and learned nothing from the culture of corruption in Illinois.

On Wednesday night, no one opened the door at the Blagojevich home, but his defense attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, told ABC 7, "such a figure, if it's true, is cruel...We will submit a figure based on the facts heard at the trial. It will be reasonable under the law and it won't be 30 years."

The man who prosecuted Blagojevich's predecessor says the government always tried to send a message at sentencing.

"In the George Ryan case, for example, when we did our calculations, we came up with 12 or 13 or 14 years. The judge gave him 6 and a 1/2. Not to say that is the ratio that will hold here, but everybody should understand this is the starting point. The government will clearly be on the aggressive side," said Collins.

A three-decade sentence is more than three times longer than former Cicero town president Betty Loren Maltese served; longer than former Congressman Mel Reynolds got for having sex with a 16- year-old campaign worker; and longer even than some murderers face.

"What the governor was convicted of was not nice stuff but there's series the judge will take in to consideration. Based on those guidelines, the judge will impose a sentence," said Richard Kling, Kent College Of Law.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will likely reveal more about their sentencing strategies in court filings due Friday.

Blagojevich's sentencing is scheduled for October 6. But there's been talk that could be delayed because it conflicts with the start of another corruption case in front of the same judge.