Blagojevich to serve sentence in Colorado prison

February 15, 2012

Chicago Tribune on February 15, 2012 released the following:

“By Annie Sweeney and Andy Grimm
Tribune reporters

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich will serve his 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado as he had sought, sources said Tuesday.

Blagojevich, who is due to report to prison by March 15, received word from federal prison officials in recent days that he will be assigned to a low-security prison near the Denver suburb of Littleton in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, the sources said.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who sentenced the former governor in December, agreed to recommend to prison officials that Blagojevich do his time at the Colorado prison, known as Federal Correctional Institution Englewood.

The former governor hopes to enroll in a substance-abuse program at the prison, which could shave off up to a year of his sentence.

Blagojevich’s legal team had requested he be sent Englewood, which has a reputation for being less crowded and violent than other facilities in the federal system. There also is an adjacent work camp, which offers more freedom of movement for prisoners and which Blagojevich could transfer to at some point while serving out his sentence.

Local poltical figures familiar with the federal prison system were divided on the wisdom of Blagojevich’s choice. Lawrence Warner, a co-defendant of Blagojevich’s predecessor, convicted Gov. George Ryan, served most of his 18-month sentence at the work camp at Englewood.

Englewood gets high marks from inmates for its location. The area is surrounded by lakes and golf courses, and the more than 300-acre compound is wooded and filled with wildlife, all framed by distant Rocky Mountains, Warner said.

But only inmates of the camp get to enjoy the majestic setting, he pointed out. Inmates in the low-security prison, which was built in the 1930s, don’t get to work on the grounds as the camp inmates do. Their time outdoors is limited to an hour or so per day.

“When I was there, I saw eagles, I saw coyotes. It was just beautiful,” Warner said. “He’s not going to get that. He’s going to see it maybe through a window or the prison yard.

“I don’t know why he wanted to go to (the prison) at Englewood. There are prisons in the system that are newer and nicer.”

Perhaps more important, unlike many prisons, Englewood is located in the suburbs of a major city—and a major airport, with more frequent, affordable flights than a penitentary in a remote, rural setting, pointed out Scott Fawell, another Ryan co-defendant.

Fawell requested assignment to a federal prison in Yankton, S.D., spending most of his 52-month sentence there, along with shorter stints at prisons in Terre Haute and the spartan Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

“I’ve seen a bit of what the federal prison system has to offer,” Fawell said. “Most of the guys I knew (that were familiar with Englewood) said it was nice.

“It beats being in the middle of cornfields. Most places where they build prisons are not nice. They’re (dumps).”

Fawell said his wife spent more than $20,000 on travel to and from Yankton, which typically included a flight into Omaha, a car rental, a two-hour drive to Yankton and an overnight hotel stay. Littleton, just south of Denver, would be far easier to get to for Blagojevich’s family to visit.

“If I’d had it to do over, maybe I would have stayed there. But I didn’t even know where Yankton was. I didn’t do much research,” Fawell said. “I assume (Blagojevich) did his research.”

Blagojevich’s preference for Englewood, and the duration of his sentence, might be a hint that the former governor’s family is considering moving from their Ravenswood home to Littleton, Fawell suggested. The area is far more cosmopolitan than most prison towns, with decent schools.

“When you’re going away as long as he is, that would be something to think about,” Fawell said.

The flamboyant former governor will become the most famous resident, though Englewood also houses disgraced Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling. Prison staff tend to take a hard line with high-profile inmates, especially early in their sentence, Fawell said. Being in an area where the staff will know less about him might mean he gets a little kinder treatment, Fawell said.

Getting his wife, Patti, and two daughters away from the media scrutiny in Chicago might also be better for the Blagojevich family, Fawell offered.

“But you never get away from Chicago media entirely,” Fawell said. “The problem is… there’s always someone in with you from Chicago, and no one really cares what’s on TV at noon, so someone always puts on the WGN news at noon.””

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Denver FBI office investigating more cases of public corruption

January 22, 2012

Denver Post on January 22, 2012 released the following:

“By Felisa Cardona
The Denver Post

The Denver FBI is investigating more than a dozen cases of public corruption in Colorado, Wyoming and Indian country.

The number of investigations is up from three years ago, when agents in the public-corruption unit launched a special hotline urging people to come forward with information.

At the time, the FBI said either no public corruption existed in the region, which was unlikely, or it was underreported. But things have changed.

“We are very busy right now,” said Supervising Special Agent Brian Schmitt. “I don’t know if it is a result of the down economy or if there are more avenues to report.”

Public corruption is defined as an abuse of public office or position within the government for personal gain.

Agents won’t provide details about pending cases but say theft and mishandling of stimulus funds, legislative corruption and law enforcement corruption are the types of crimes they look into.

White-collar crimes such as bribery, fraud, extortion, embezzlement, insider trading and influence peddling take a long time to investigate and require agents who have special skills.

In 2010, the FBI opened an investigation into a Denver driving-school instructor who was taking bribes in exchange for passing tests.

Criminal charges haven’t been filed against Sikiru Fadeyi, the owner of Ola’s Driving School, but undercover agents infiltrated his business and recorded him accepting bribes, court records show.

The reason charges have not materialized against Fadeyi — who was an agent of the state because he was licensed to administer tests — is because of the complex nature of the investigation. Leads from that case extend to other states as far away as New York and Hawaii.

For now, Fadeyi’s license is suspended and he is not allowed to operate the driving school.

FBI agents routinely work cases with local law enforcement, but when it comes to corruption investigations, the agents tackle them alone. They don’t want local officers with ties to a particular city or agency in conflict with the investigation.

Public-corruption cases — such as the charges against former Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich — receive intense coverage by the media and are followed closely by the public, which can complicate investigations for the FBI.

Witnesses are less likely to come forward when there is too much attention on a case, Schmitt said.

Also, agents and federal prosecutors are aware that the targets of white-collar investigations typically hire top-notch defense lawyers to fight the charges.

“The cases we put together have to be rock solid,” he said.

Schmitt said corruption in the region isn’t rampant as it is in places such as Detroit and New Orleans, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

“Anywhere you have money and power, corruption follows,” he said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Judge recommends Colorado low-security prison for Blagojevich

December 13, 2011

Chicago Tribune on December 13, 2011 released the following:

“By Cynthia Dizikes
Tribune reporter

A federal judge today agreed to recommend that Rod Blagojevich serve his 14-year prison sentence at a low-security federal prison in Littleton, Colo.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel also agreed to extend Blagojevich’s surrender date to March 15 unless the former governor is able to sell his Ravenswood Manor residence before then. Last week, the judge had ordered Blagojevich to report to prison on Feb. 16.

Although Blagojevich would rather have been sent to a minimum-security prison camp, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons will not usually consider that option for defendants sentenced to 10 or more years in prison, said Blagojevich’s attorney, Sheldon Sorosky.

“It’s kind of like applying to school,” Sorosky said of deciding to request a low-security facility instead of a camp. “If the kid who’s got all C’s asks to go to Harvard, he’s probably not going to get in.”

Prison camps are the lowest security in the federal prison system and generally feature unsecured perimeters and dormitory-style living. The nearest prison camp to Chicago is in Oxford, Wis.

Low-security facilities, meanwhile, have secured perimeters, but instead of prison cells, they usually have dormitory living facilities, according to the Bureau of Prisons. The low-security facility in Littleton – officially known as the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood — is located 15 miles southwest of Denver, according to the Bureau of Prisons web site.

In sentencing Blagojevich last week, Zagel agreed to recommend that Blagojevich serve his time at a low-security prison and asked his attorneys to suggest a location.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will make any final decision on where Blagojevich will be incarcerated.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Appeal is Blagojevich’s last hope to cut sentence

December 9, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on December 8, 2011 released the following:

“By MICHAEL TARM

CHICAGO (AP) — Rod Blagojevich has one last hope to reduce his harsh 14-year sentence: an appeal.

But lawyers for the disgraced former Illinois governor face long odds in chipping away at the time he must serve for attempting to auction off an appointment to President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and other crimes, legal experts said Thursday.

Attorneys will have the daunting task of demonstrating that the respected, 25-year veteran Judge James Zagel who oversaw Blagojevich’s two trials made major errors at trial and in calculating a sentence for the 18 convictions, said Lance Northcutt, an adjunct professor at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School.

“Zagel is careful to rule in a way to avoid having his decisions overturned and his reasoning for this sentence on Wednesday was detailed,” he said. “A higher court is loath to second-guess the trial court – and they rarely do.”

Northcutt was in the crowded Chicago courtroom Wednesday observing as Zagel scolded a visibly anxious Blagojevich – in a tone befitting a school principal – for harming public confidence in government.

Blagojevich’s attorney Sheldon Sorosky told The Associated Press on Thursday that the defense would ask for the convictions to be overturned and for the sentence to be reduced.

“We intend to appeal everything,” he said.

Potential issues on appeal, he said, included whether Zagel placed so much emphasis on sending a message to other would-be political schemers that he unduly inflated the sentence of the twice-elected Democrat.

“He absolutely did,” said Sorosky, noting that Zagel several times mentioned Blagojevich’s predecessor, Republican George Ryan, who was convicted in 2006 and is serving a 6 1/2-year sentence for corruption.

“He said Ryan got 6 1/2 and so I have to give you way more,” Sorosky said. “He was giving Blagojevich the sentence not to punish Blagojevich for what he did but to stop other governors. That’s not right.”

An appeal could drag on for years, and experts add that there is virtually no chance Blagojevich, who turns 55 Saturday, would be able to put off reporting to prison as scheduled on Feb. 16.

Blagojevich has started a bleak countdown toward that date. In the meantime, he will spend a Christmas at home with his wife, Patti, and their daughters – Amy, 15, and Annie, 8. Once behind bars, Blagojevich will be cut off from the outside world, with visits from his family strictly limited. He’ll share a cell and perform a menial job.

As it stands, he won’t be eligible for early release until 2024, when he’s 67.

Only felons deemed likely to prevail on appeal can stay out of prison in the interim, and that doesn’t seem to apply to Blagojevich. Zagel will make that determination.

The chance that Zagel will let Blagojevich remain free pending appeal?

“Slim to none,” said Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago-based attorney who practices in federal court.

Zagel’s comments at the sentencing weren’t devoid of conciliation. He told Blagojevich he accepted that he did some good as governor, such as on children’s health issues, and said it was “a mitigating factor” for the sentence.

He also cited the former governor’s direct appeal for mercy, in which an untypically contrite Blagojevich repeated apologized and said, “I have nobody to blame but myself. … I am just so incredibly sorry.”

Zagel’s acceptance of Blagojevich’s apologies, Northcutt said, likely kept the former governor from getting an even longer term. Blagojevich’s attorneys will thus likely focus their appeal on trial errors and not on asserting that he did not commit the crimes, Northcutt said.

If the higher court determines Zagel didn’t give Blagojevich a fair trial – even if he admitted the crimes during sentencing – they could toss out the convictions and order a new trial.

In defense motions filed during Blagojevich’s retrial, the defense accused Zagel of bias, pointing to how he almost invariably sided with prosecutors when there were objections during testimony.

They could make similar claims in any appeal.

Blagojevich’s lawyers also have complained that Zagel had repeatedly rejected their requests to play FBI wiretap evidence that they claimed would help their defense.

Chicago attorney Michael Ettinger, who represented Blagojevich’s brother and co-defendant, Robert Blagojevich, at a first trial, said the tapes may be good grounds for appeal.

“I’ve heard those tapes, and what Rod says in one hour, he says something the opposite the next hour,” he said Thursday.

During the sentencing hearing, Zagel rejected the notion – made often by Blagojevich’s own attorneys at trial – that the recordings showed Blagojevich was merely a big talker who brainstormed wildly as a way to weed out good ideas from bad ones.

“Musings are talks without purpose, not the material of arranged meetings and repeated phone calls” to commit crimes, Zagel said. “The jury and I do not believe these were musings.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Blagojevich sentenced to 14 years in prison

December 7, 2011

The Washington Post on December 7, 2011 released the following:

“By Associated Press

CHICAGO — Judge sentences ousted Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in prison for corruption.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Stiff sentence appears likely for Blagojevich today

December 7, 2011
Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich

Chicago Tribune on December 7, 2011 released the following:

“By Bob Secter, Jeff Coen and John Chase
Tribune reporters

Two things were clear Tuesday by the close of the first day of Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing: The former governor was likely going to be hit with a stiff sentence, and his legal team had abandoned its early hope of him avoiding prison altogether.

At the same time, Blagojevich’s lawyers went to lengths to portray their client as an extraordinarily devoted family man at heart as well as a sensitive, caring politician who deserves leniency.

“Be merciful,” Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, wrote to U.S. District Judge James Zagel in excerpts from a letter read in court.

“Be merciful,” Blagojevich’s lawyer Aaron Goldstein also repeated as he closed a lengthy argument that for the first time acknowledged wrongdoing by Blagojevich but also sought to minimize the damage it caused.

Blagojevich has yet to speak on his own behalf. That will come today before Zagel formally decides on how much time to give the ex-governor for convictions on 18 criminal counts involving the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, illegal shakedowns for campaign cash and lying to federal agents.

Zagel made it clear that he plans to take a hard-line approach to interpreting sentencing guidelines, siding with prosecutors in their calculation that Blagojevich hoped to squeeze more than $1.6 million in campaign cash from schemes on which he was convicted. Blagojevich’s lawyers argued that the numbers weren’t real because none of the money was paid and some of the shakedown targets testified they never had any intention of doing so.

The judge also said he did not buy defense arguments that the impeached governor was manipulated by aides and advisers into committing crimes. Zagel said he considered Blagojevich to be the ringleader of a criminal conspiracy, a designation that can lead to a significant increase in prison time under the guidelines.

Prosecutors are asking for a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison for Blagojevich, and Zagel’s comments suggest he could easily settle on something within that range.

“I do believe that is absurd to contend that his staff and advisers would devise criminal schemes whose only aim was to benefit the defendant,” the judge said. “He promised them nothing. He was interested in himself.”

It was a deeply chastened and somber Blagojevich who appeared in court Tuesday, a stark contrast to the defendant who entered and left court with a swagger during his two criminal trials. Back then, he acted almost as if he was still in campaign mode, glad-handing supporters in and out of the courthouse, waving to cameras and often stopping to proclaim his innocence and attack prosecutors for persecuting him.

On Tuesday, Blagojevich went out of his way to avoid the limelight. He was ushered in and out of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse through a passage not accessible to the public and away from the media glare.

Inside court, which was held in an oversize room usually reserved for public ceremonies, Blagojevich was subdued and even looked sullen on occasion. His wife sat on a spectator bench behind the lawyer’s table, sometimes tearing up as her brother and sister consoled her.

On Wednesday, prosecutors will get their chance to explain why they think Blagojevich deserves a long prison term. While Blagojevich’s lawyers disagree, they also backed off previous public statements suggesting he was a candidate for probation.

When Zagel flatly asked Goldstein if he sought probation for the former governor, the attorney avoided repeating the word and said only that the defense wanted “the lowest sentence possible.”

In legal papers filed with Zagel last week, Blagojevich’s legal team came close to suggesting that the former governor still considered himself a victim and did not accept the jury’s finding. But in court, Goldstein and other Blagojevich lawyers repeatedly sought to backtrack on that, acknowledging for the first time that he committed crimes.

The marquee allegation in the case was that Blagojevich tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat held by Barack Obama before he went to the White House. And Sheldon Sorosky, another Blagojevich lawyer, said the former governor erred when he asked for a job in return for appointing Obama friend Valerie Jarrett.

“We accept the fact that’s a crime, it’s illegal, he should not have done it,” Sorosky said. “That crime does not call for a 15-year jail sentence.”

Likewise, Blagojevich sought campaign donations from supporters of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in exchange for a Jackson appointment to the Senate seat, Sorosky said. He pointed to a 2008 undercover recording of Blagojevich telling his brother, Robert, then his campaign finance chief, that if he appointed Jackson, “some of this stuff has to start happening now.”

“He’s asking for a contribution here. And that’s wrong and he’s guilty, but I don’t know that that’s anywhere near selling a Senate seat for $1.5 million,” Sorosky said. “And once again this does not call for a sentence of 15 years in jail.”

The defense repeatedly turned to Blagojevich’s family to hit the most emotional notes of the hearing’s first day. The lawyers said the family would be devastated if its husband and father is taken away for a decade or more.

“Your honor, I ask you humbly with the life of my husband and the childhood of my daughters in your hands, be merciful,” Patti Blagojevich wrote to Zagel in a letter from which Goldstein quoted.

Goldstein also read messages that Blagojevich wrote several years ago to his now-teenage daughter, Amy, when she was on a school trip. Amy was coming home the next day, and Blagojevich described how he couldn’t wait to see her.

The attorney also read passages to the judge from a letter Amy wrote recently about her father. In a message to the court prepared as part of the defense presentation, Amy said one of the few good things about her father’s criminal case has been that he has been home a lot with her.

“He’s been here to help me with my homework,” she wrote. “He’s been here to teach me life lessons.”

She, too, asked the court for mercy, describing how her life has been turned on its head and how a long sentence would make it worse.

“It’s too drastic a change. I need my father,” she wrote. “I need him there for my high school graduation. I’ll need him there if I don’t get into college.

“I’ll need him when my heart gets broken.”

Goldstein rattled through a litany of other public corruption cases that Blagojevich contends were far worse but still yielded lighter sentences. Many involved public officials who directly pocketed bribes in exchange for government action, while Blagojevich was asking only for campaign donations, got no money and ultimately didn’t use his power to punish those who didn’t give to him.

“It wasn’t cash in an envelope,” said Carolyn Gurland, another Blagojevich lawyer.

Even the added element of Blagojevich’s nonstop publicity campaigns railing against prosecutors has been seen before — and not produced a sentence like the one the government is now seeking, the defense said.

Don Siegelman, a former governor of Alabama, was charged in a corruption case and repeatedly painted himself as the victim of a government conspiracy, Goldstein said. He received a little more than seven years in prison.

Gurland asked Zagel not to sentence Blagojevich to a stiff term in order to send a broader message to other politicians. Blagojevich shouldn’t feel the brunt of a government effort to get ever-tougher prison terms for politicians who seemingly never learn not to illegally self-deal, she said.

Punishing Blagojevich for the wrongs of figures such as former Gov. George Ryan, Blagojevich’s predecessor who is now in prison, would be “demonstrably unfair to Mr. Blagojevich,” Gurland said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Blago lawyer: ‘We accept the fact that’s a crime’

December 6, 2011
Rod Blagojevich
( Paul Beaty / Associated Press ) – Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich tries to talk with the media as he is led away by wife Patti, as they leave their home heading to federal court for his sentencing hearing in Chicago, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Blagojevich was convicted earlier this year on 18 corruption counts, including trying to auction off President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat.

Chicago Tribune on December 6, 2011 released the following:

“Lawyers for Rod Blagojevich appear to have changed tactics this afternoon, conceding the former governor committed crimes but arguing that a 15-year prison sentence would be far too severe for such wrongdoing.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel has heard from three Blagojevich lawyers this afternoon, including one who told the judge to try to look past all of the technical arguments on sentencing guidelines and think about what Blagojevich was convicted of.

Sheldon Sorosky told the judge Blagojevich committed four wrongs, chiefly the attempted sale of the Senate seat held by Barack Obama until his election as president. Blagojevich made a mistake by asking for a job in return for possibly appointing Obama’s friend, Valerie Jarrett to the Senate, Sorosky said.

“We accept the fact that’s a crime. It’s illegal. He should not have done it,” Sorosky said. “That crime does not call for a 15-year jail sentence.”

A second Blagojevich lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, then argued that general deterrence should not factor into the punishment given the former governor.

“I would suggest your honor that it does work,” said Goldstein, rattling off a series of public corruption cases in which politicians who pocketed tens of thousands of dollars received shorter sentences than what the government is proposing for Blagojevich.

Blagojevich doesn’t warrant punishment anywhere near the 15 to 20 years in prison that the government is seeking, Goldstein said. Even if Blagojevich gets a 5-year prison term, no other politician is going to think he got away with a free pass, he said.

Prosecutors have cited Blagojevich’s publicity campaigns as something the court might consider in handing down a sentence. But Goldstein said Blagojevich said things he was entitled to say in the media and some other things that maybe he shouldn’t have said, but in no way did Blagojevich intend to attack Zagel as a judge or the court process.

Goldstein also encouraged Zagel to consider certain figures in the investigation who were never charged despite their wrongdoing, citing Raghu Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, who allegedly offered $1.5 million in exchange for appointing U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat.

The government thinks of Blagojevich as a shark, he said.

“But he wasn’t swimming with guppies,” Goldstein told the court.

Another lawyer for Blagojevich, Carolyn Gurland, asked Zagel not to sentence Blagojevich to a stiff term to send a broader message to other politicians. Blagojevich should not be given more years because it seems that prosecutions of public corruption cases have done little to stop elected officers from crossing the line, she said.

Blagojevich should be considered alone and not sentenced for the “historical political corruption in Illinois or anywhere else,” she said. “He is an individual who has and will suffer his punishment as an individual.”

All of it should be weighed against what will be suffered by “a man and his family,” Gurland said.

Zagel asked the lawyers exactly what sentence they were recommending because a specific request for probation was not part of defense filings even though that’s what the former governor’s legal team had been calling for weeks.

Goldstein avoided asking for probation, telling the judge the defense seeks “the lowest sentence possible.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Key factors judge must consider in calculating Blagojevich’s sentence

December 6, 2011
U.S. District Judge James Zagel
U.S. District Judge James Zagel

Chicago Tribune on December 5, 2011 released the following:

“The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — In a hearing that starts Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James Zagel must answer several key, sometimes nuanced questions as he calculates a fitting sentence for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 18 counts of corruption. Most legal experts say Blagojevich is likely to get about 10 years, but Zagel has enormous discretion to give him much more or much less.

Among the questions:

— Has Blagojevich accepted responsibility or expressed remorse? To date, he has not. He could in a statement at sentencing, but signs are he may keep asserting his innocence by claiming aides led him astray — declarations judges frown upon at the sentencing stage.

— What harm did Blagojevich’s crimes cause? The defense says Blagojevich didn’t make a single cent off his schemes, some of which were attempts to extort money that failed. But Zagel could conclude his actions badly undermined public confidence in government.

— Did Blagojevich lie when he testified at his retrial? Federal judges can boost a sentence by years if a defendant testified and was subsequently convicted. In light of the jury’s guilty verdicts, prosecutors have urged Zagel to view Blagojevich’s testimony as perjury.

— Did he lead the conspiracies? The top dog in conspiracies gets more time and prosecutors say Blagojevich was just that. Zagel must decide if he buys the defense argument that just because Blagojevich was a boss didn’t mean he took the lead role in the schemes.

— Other crimes? It may come as a surprise to some that federal judges can consider actions not directly related to crimes for which a felon was convicted. Prosecutors want Zagel to factor in that Blagojevich started hatching schemes from the day he took office.

— Has he otherwise been beneficial to society? Judges can temper a sentence by considering good deeds. The defense cites Blagojevich’s legislative accomplishments, including making health insurance widely available to Illinois children.

— Does the crime involve an elected official? Those, like Blagojevich, who commit crimes in their official capacity, are deemed to have violated the public trust. Judges consider that a major aggravating factor.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


List of Blagojevich convictions, maximum sentences

December 6, 2011

Chicago Tribune on December 5, 2011 released the following:

“The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge will sentence former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 18 counts of corruption this week. Jurors at his first trial last year deadlocked on all but one of 24 counts, convicting him only of lying to the FBI. At his retrial this year, jurors convicted him on 17 of 20 counts. Combined, the charges formally carry a maximum 305-year sentence, though he’s likely to get closer to 10 years.

The convictions and maximum sentences from the retrial are:

TEN COUNTS OF WIRE FRAUD, nearly all of which are related to the allegation Blagojevich tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Each count carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

ONE COUNT OF ATTEMPTED EXTORTION related to an attempt to shake down the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital for a campaign contribution. Maximum penalty of 20 years.

ONE COUNT OF SOLICITING A BRIBE in the shakedown of the children’s hospital executive. Maximum penalty of 10 years.

ONE COUNT OF EXTORTION CONSPIRACY for conspiring with an aide to shake down a racetrack executive. Maximum penalty of 20 years.

ONE COUNT OF BRIBERY CONSPIRACY, related to shakedown of the racetrack executive. Maximum five-year sentence.

ONE COUNT OF EXTORTION CONSPIRACY, related to the Senate seat. Maximum penalty of 20 years.

ONE COUNT OF ATTEMPTED EXTORTION, related to the Senate seat. Maximum penalty of 20 years.

ONE COUNT OF BRIBERY CONSPIRACY, related to the Senate seat. Maximum of 5 years.

And from the first trial:

ONE COUNT OF FALSE STATEMENTS, for lying to federal investigators about his fundraising. Maximum of 5 years.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


After crime, punishment awaits ex-Gov. Blagojevich

December 6, 2011
Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich

The Associated Press (AP) on December 6, 2011 released the following:

“By MICHAEL TARM
Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Rod Blagojevich’s days of reckoning arrive Tuesday when a federal judge opens a sentencing hearing for the disgraced former Illinois governor on 18 corruption counts, including trying to auction off President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

The impeached state executive-turned-reality TV star has good reason to feel anxious and afraid at the two-day hearing in Chicago. He faces the prospect of 10 or more years behind bars.

If Judge James Zagel settles on a sentence Wednesday of more than a decade, that would make it one of the stiffest penalties imposed for corruption in a state with a long history of crooked politics.

Prosecutors will ask Zagel to imprison the twice-elected governor for 15 to 20 years, arguing he has not only shirked all responsibility for his crimes but repeatedly thumbed his nose at the U.S. justice system.

Blagojevich has already paid a price in public ridicule and financial ruin, the defense argues in proposing a term of just a few years. They also seem bent on an approach judges often frown upon at the sentencing stage: Continuing to insist their client is innocent.

Both sides could finish their pitches to Zagel during Tuesday’s hearing, which was moved to a large ceremonial courtroom to accommodate expected crowds. But Zagel says he’ll wait until Wednesday to pronounce a sentence – possibly so he can sleep on it.

The 70-year-old judge, who played a judge in the 1989 movie “Music Box,” must answer nuanced questions according to complex sentencing algebra, including whether any good Blagojevich accomplished as governor counterbalances the bad.

In describing the humiliation his family has faced, the defense cited Blagojevich’s appearances on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” where he struggled to use a cellphone, and his wife, Patti, eating a tarantula on the reality show, “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”

After sentencing, Zagel will likely give Blagojevich weeks before he must report to prison. Once there, the man heard scoffing on FBI wiretaps about earning a low six-figure salary would have to take a prison job – possibly scrubbing toilets – at just 12 cents an hour.

Blagojevich’s sentencing comes just days before his 55th birthday and three years to the week of his Dec. 9, 2008, arrest.

The jury deadlocked in his first trial, agreeing on just one of 24 counts – that Blagojevich lied to the FBI. Jurors at his recent retrial convicted him on 17 of 20 counts, including bribery.

Legal experts have said Blagojevich needs to display some remorse when, as expected, he addresses Zagel Tuesday or Wednesday. But the big unknown is whether the often cocksure ex-governor will beg for mercy at the hearing or yet again protest his innocence.

A flat-out apology isn’t always considered a must. If it isn’t sincere, it can only anger a judge.

The defense could call others to speak in court. But as Blagojevich became politically radioactive, longtime friends scattered, so it’s not clear who would be willing to speak for him now.

Wives often plea for leniency, but Zagel likely wouldn’t view Patti Blagojevich sympathetically. On FBI wiretaps, she was heard encouraging her husband’s bid for campaign cash or a top job in exchange for an appointment to Obama’s vacated seat.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.