Former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich to serve 14 years prison sentence for corruption
LITTLETON,Colo.— Convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich entered a federal prison in Coloradoto begin a 14-year sentence for corruption on Thursday.
When he walked into prison, Blagojevich became Illinois’ second former governor in federal prison for corruption, joining George Ryan.
He also became Inmate No. 40892-424. The man with a taste for fine Oxxford-label suits was to be given khaki prison garb and boots.
Jurors convicted Blagojevich on 18 counts after hearing FBI wiretaps that revealed a foul-mouth Blagojevich describing the opportunity to exchange an appointment to Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a top job as “f—— golden.”
The prison has a few other high-profile inmates, including Jeff Skilling, the former CEO and president of Enron who is serving a 24-year sentence for fraud and other crimes. Most of the facility’s nearly 1,000 inmates are there for drug offences, though some could be in for violent crimes including murder, said U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke.
Blagojevich, who was heard on the FBI wiretaps scoffing at a low six-figure salary, will work a menial prison job, possibly cleaning bathrooms or doing landscape work – starting at 12 cents an hour. Guards take several head counts a day, including overnight.
“He’s going to be doing a lot of, `yes sir’ and `no sir,'” said Jim Laski, a formerChicagocity clerk sentenced to two years in prison for corruption in 2006. “It’s a humbling, humiliating experience. But you have to take it.”
Ex-cons say Blagojevich must master unwritten prison codes, such as never gazing at other inmates for longer than a second or two. And his fame outside won’t do him any good.
“You say you were once the governor ofIllinois– no one gives hoot,” explained Jim Marcus, a Chicago-based defense attorney and former prosecutor. “Prisoners are going to say, `You’re in the same boat as me, pal. Now go clean the toilets.'”
Perhaps some good news for Blagojevich is that he won’t have to shave his trademark thick hair, though maintenance may be challenging. Hair dryers, for instance, are prohibited.
But the most difficult change undoubtedly will be living without his wife and their daughters, 15-year-old Amy and 8-year-old Anne. In prison, his contact with them will be limited to a few times a month and, when they do see each other, Blagojevich will be able to hug and kiss them once at the start of the visit and once at the end.
On all the other days, he’ll have to fight boredom.
Under federal rules, inmates must serve at least 85 percent of their terms before becoming eligible for early release. That’s nearly 12 years for Blagojevich, though his term could be reduced under a prison program.
The avid runner could jog on a prison track for the limited time he is allowed in the main yard, or he could read or play pool in a game room.
Internet access and cellphones are prohibited.
A law graduate, he also could research his case in the prison library. He and his attorneys are appealing both the 14-year sentence and his convictions.
“After the initial fear of the first days, boredom is the main enemy,” said Marcus, the defense attorney. “Getting up at the same time, eating, working, sleeping at the same time … that’s what gets to so many inmates, and Blagojevich is in for such a long time.”
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