The former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday on federal corruption charges.
He was found guilty in June of 17 counts of graft, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. He has been ordered pay a $20,000 fine as part of his sentence, and will report to prison on Feb. 16.
The harm is the erosion of public trust in government, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said.
Zagel disputed the defense theory that Blagojevich was misled by his staff. The governor was not marched along the criminal path by his staff, Zagel said. He marched them and ruined a few of their careers.
The fabric of Illinois is torn, disfigured and not easily repaired. You did that damage, Zagel said.
I'm here convicted of crimes, Blagojevich said. The jury decided I was guilty. I'm accepting of it. I acknowledge it and of course I'm unbelievably sorry for it, he continued. My life is in ruins. I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions … I'm not blaming anybody. I have accepted responsibility for it, he added.
On his way out of the courthouse, Blagojevich cited Rudyard Kipling and said it was a time to be strong, to fight through adversity and be strong for his children.
Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008 while still in office. As governor, he was tasked under law with appointing someone to fill the Senate seat left vacant when Obama won the election to the White House. In FBI wire taps, Blagojevich was heard describing the Senate appointment as a golden opportunity. His Republican predecessor, Gov. George Ryan, was also jailed for corruption.