Blagojevich’s resentencing date requested by prosecutors, who decline retrial


By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune

Two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appeal, federal prosecutors have asked the judge who handed down Blagojevich’s 14-year prison term to set a resentencing date in the case.

In a four-page motion filed Wednesday, prosecutors said they have opted not to retry Blagojevich on five counts that were dismissed nine months ago by a federal appeals court in Chicago. Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel to set a resentencing date and refer the case to the probation department so new sentencing guidelines can be calculated.

The filing sets in motion what could be the last twist in a long legal road for Blagojevich, who was convicted in 2011 on sweeping corruption charges and has spent the last four years at a federal prison outside Denver.


On Monday, the Supreme Court dealt another setback for the former Democratic governor when it declined to hear his appeal. In doing so, the high court left in place the decision last July of a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which threw out five of Blagojevich’s extortion convictions on technical grounds.

The Chicago-based appellate court tempered the small legal victory for Blagojevich by calling the evidence against him “overwhelming” and making it clear that Zagel’s original sentence was not out of bounds.

While Zagel could simply let his original sentence stand, many legal experts believe the judge will recognize the dismissal of some of the counts by shaving off some time.

Blagojevich, 59, was convicted in 2011 of misusing his powers as governor in an array of wrongdoing, most famously for his alleged attempts to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after his 2008 election as president.

He has been incarcerated in a federal prison in suburban Denver since March 2012 and is not scheduled to be released until May 2024, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

His lawyer, Leonard Goodman, told the Chicago Tribune on Monday he hoped Zagel would recognize that the 7th Circuit had dismissed some of the charges that specifically dealt with Blagojevich’s attempt to trade the Senate seat for a Cabinet post or other benefit for himself.

“These charges were the centerpiece of the case, the ones that would have Abraham Lincoln rolling over in his grave,” said Goodman, paraphrasing the words of then-U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald after Blagojevich was hit with the bombshell charges in 2008.


The resentencing before Zagel also could bring focus to the time Blagojevich has already spent in prison, Goodman said. In his four years at the minimum-security prison in Littleton, Colo., the ex-governor, known for his love of history, has kept busy by teaching Civil War history and other classes to fellow inmates, Goodman said. He’s also been singing in a prison band, although the group’s lead guitar player was recently released, he said.


(c)2016 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.