The sentencing hearing for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who could face 10 years or more behind bars after being convicted on corruption charges, kicked off on Tuesday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Blagojevich is set to testify Tuesday on the first day of his expected two-day sentencing hearing. Judge James Zagel has said he won’t sentence Blagojevich until Wednesday, but the judge told the court on Tuesday he believes a sentence of 30 years to life for Blagojevich is “inappropriate,” the Sun-Times reported.
The judge, however, said he believes the prosecution’s charge that Blagojevich was aiming to appoint Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) to President Barack Obama’s open Senate seat so he could get a $1.5 million bribe from Jackson supporters, the Sun-Times reported. Zagel described Blagojevich as “pretty relentless” in trying to work out that deal.
That amount of money, Zagel said, could be used in his consideration of the ousted governor’s sentence.
“Testimony intimated from several of the witnesses that they would rather avoid talking to the governor as opposed to whisper into his ear and guide his actions,” Zagel said, according to the Sun-Times. “Frankly, based on those tapes, I don’t think he was an easy man to stop. He rattled on to a long time … His tone of voice was demanding. He was not a supplicant.
Blagojevich was subdued in the courtroom and spent much of the morning scribbling in a notebook with his head down, according to reports.
Prosecutors have recommended that Blagojevich serve 15 to 20 years behind bars, while the defense has argued that according to federal guidelines the former governor should be sentenced to only three and a half to slightly more than four years in prison and should in fact receive even less time.
Federal prosecutors on Monday slammed Blagojevich’s request for leniency in a court filing, writing that the disgraced politician has never accepted responsibility for his crimes and deserves the full suggested sentence.