Convicted Blagojevich faces prospect of prison

CHICAGO (AP) — Stunned and nearly speechless after hearing the verdicts against him, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will wake up Tuesday to the stark reality that he is likely headed to federal prison within months, leaving behind his wife, two young daughters and comfortable home in a leafy Chicago neighborhood.

A jury convicted him Monday on 17 charges, including trying to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and attempting to shake down executives for campaign cash. The convictions carry a combined maximum prison sentence of around 300 years, but legal experts say a federal judge is likely to send him away for around a decade, give or take a few years.

An irrepressible Blagojevich had said before the retrial began that he refused to even contemplate the prospect of prison. But red-eyed, his face drawn and frowning, he hurried out of the courthouse after the verdict was read.

The broke and impeached ex-governor told reporters that he and his wife, Patti, “have to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and then try to sort things out.” His two daughters are 8 and 14.

Uncharacteristically, the 54-year-old Democrat had little more to say, adding only that he was stunned by the verdict.

“Well, among the many lessons I’ve learned from this whole experience is to try to speak a little bit less, so I’m going to keep my remarks kind of short,” Blagojevich said.

He is almost certain to appeal the convictions, and his defense attorneys filed a number of motions to lay the groundwork for that.

If he does end up in prison, Blagojevich would follow a path well-trodden by Illinois governors.

In Illinois’ book of political infamy, though, Blagojevich’s chapter may go down as the most ignominious because of the allegations he effectively tried to hock an appointment to Obama’s Senate seat for campaign cash or a job.

Blagojevich will probably receive around 10 years in prison, with little chance he would get more than 15, said former Chicago-based federal prosecutor Jeff Cramer said.

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