Blagojevich sings prison blues: Lawyers file for re-sentencing

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff WLS logo
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Blagojevich attorneys ask for re-sentencing
In a pre-midnight filing, attorneys for Rod Blagojevich have asked that he be re-sentenced to just five years in prison, the I-Team has learned.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In a pre-midnight filing, attorneys for Rod Blagojevich have asked that the disgraced governor be re-sentenced to just five years in prison, the I-Team has learned.

If granted, that would mean he would be free in a year. Judge James Zagel is scheduled to hold a re-sentencing hearing on Aug. 9. Blagojevich has already spent four years of a 14-year sentence in a Colorado penitentiary.

Blagojevich's re-sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 9, after an appellate court decision that stripped away five of the 18 corruption counts for which he was convicted. His attorney says Blagojevich "would like to come in but it may be too difficult to arrange" a cross-country prisoner transfer. If the Bureau of Prisons can't/won't bring him here, he would most likely appear by video conference.

Because some of the most serious charges were tossed aside, the new filing by his attorney Leonard Goodman asks for a significant reduction in sentence. But some legal experts say recommending a sentence may be a bad move.

"One of the things judges pretty consistently say is don't recommend to me a sentence. Realistically, don't tell me what to do. I'm the judge and I'm going to do what I want to do. You can recommend a reasonable sentence, you can say it should be significantly lower than the last sentenced you imposed for the following reason," says Richard Kling, Illinois Institute of Technology Kent College of Law.

In the Monday night filing by defense attorneys, Blagojevich's request relies on numerous character letters written by fellow inmates who claim he is an optimistic and model prisoner, one who has mentored and taught them while behind bars. The filing also points to personal hardships suffered by the former governor's family since he went away.

READ: Blagojevich sentencing memorandum
READ: Prosecutors ask for same 14-year sentence for Blagojevich

READ: Letters from inmates supporting Blagojevich

Further, it is revealed that the ex-governor, who long fancied himself as an Elvis Presley clone, is lead singer for a prison musical group called "The Jailhouse Rockers." The group performed for the prison GED graduation ceremony in June 2013 and again on the 4th of July, according to the court filing.

Blagojevich's attorney declined to be interviewed but in the court filing states the ex-governor's "crimes can no longer be portrayed as selfish or greedy. Instead they are crimes of an overly zealous politicians seeking to advance his political goals."

Federal prosecutors are not nearly as generous in their re-sentence memo also filed with the court late Monday. The government is asking that no mercy be shown to Blagojevich, stating he "acted corruptly, repeatedly, and in utter disregard of the trust Illinois voters placed in him."

The U.S. Attorney wants Judge Zagel to re-impose the original sentence of 14 years.