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Former Illinois governor sentenced to 14 years in prison


11:19, December 08, 2011

CHICAGO, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison Wednesday, after being found guilty on 18 counts of corruption.

The lengthy prison sentence was issued after an unusually remorseful Blagojevich took the floor to deliver a last apology to both the courtroom and Illinois public.

"I never set out to break the law. I never set out to cross lines," Blagojevich announced somberly, saying that his original intentions had differed from what he now accepted as the end result.

"I was mistaken. The jury convicted me and they convicted me because those were my actions... I am responsible. I caused it all. I'm not blaming anybody. I was the governor, and I should have known better. And I am just so incredibly sorry."

Blagojevich's defense team had hoped U.S. District Judge James Zagel would exercise leniency, arguing that the effects of such a long prison sentence would hurt Blagojevich's two young children.

Zagel, however, instead doled out the lengthier sentence argued by prosecutors, expressing that Blagojevich should have considered his daughters' welfare before abusing his power for personal benefit.

On June 27, 2011, a jury found Blagojevich guilty on charges of soliciting bribes and committing fraud, but the former governor's most egregious felony conviction was his attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama after the 2008 election.

According to the complaint lodged by federal prosecutors, a taped conversation caught Blagojevich referring to the available Senate seat as "a (expletive) valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

Blagojevich's ethics violations earned him the title of first impeached governor in Illinois state history, although three other Illinois governors have also been sent to prison just since the 1970s.

On February 16, Blagojevich must report to federal prison and join his predecessor Governor George Ryan, who is currently serving his own six and a half year sentence for corruption.

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