Blagojevich gets 14 years

Rod Blagojevich Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison

December 7, 2011 12:00 PM

CHICAGO (CBS) – Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday, after apologizing for making “terrible mistakes,” capping a nearly three-year saga for Illinois.

The sentence is the longest ever handed down to a convicted Illinois governor and one of the longest for any political corruption case in state history.

“His abuse of the office of governor is more damaging than the abuse of any other office in the United States except president,” U.S. District Judge James Zagel said in announcing Blagojevich’s sentence for 18 corruption charges, including his attempt to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

“When a state senator takes a bribe, that’s one person out of 59. … You are not to be compared with those who hold lesser positions in government. You, as a governor are seen to control all of them, though I concede in practice you don’t,” Zagel added. “When it is the governor who goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn and disfigured and not easily or quickly repaired.”

After the sentence was announced Blagojevich mouthed “don’t worry” to his wife, Patti, and touched her hand before walking up to the bench, as the judge ordered him to surrender to the Bureau of Prison son Feb. 16.

The judge also imposed fines and penalties totaling nearly $22,000.

Blagojevich addressed reporters briefly in the Dirksen Federal Building lobby after the sentencing. He solemnly quoted the poet Rudyard Kipling as he reacted to the sentence.

“Rudyard Kipling, in his poem, ‘If,’ among the things he wrote is, ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors the same,’ ” he said. “For Patti and I, and especially me, this is a time to be strong. This is a time to fight through adversity. This is a time for me to be strong for my children; to be strong for Patti.”

He said his next mission is to go home with his wife and explain to his daughters, Amy, 15, and Annie, 8, what will happen from here.

“This is a time for me to be strong for my children, strong for Patti,” he said. “We’re going to keep fighting on through this adversity. See you soon.”

Outside the courthouse, defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky said there are plans to appeal the sentence “for all the reasons that we said in our post-trial motion.” He had no further comment.

Blagojevich did not speak again when he returned to his Ravenswood Manor home, although he did take the time to shake hands with supporters and autograph a book.

Moments later, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who led the prosecution against Blagojevich, also spoke to reporters after the sentencing. He also led the prosecution of convicted former Gov. George Ryan, and he lamented the fact that Illinois has now sent two consecutive governors to prison.

“In any state, it would be awful if two governors were convicted in a century, and yet we’ve seen it twice in five years,” Fitzgerald said.

He said the 14-year sentence for Blagojevich “sends a strong message that the public has had enough and judges have had enough. This has to end.”

He said any elected official who is thinking about becoming corrupt should now be acutely aware of the consequences, and Blagojevich’s sentence should serve as a deterrent — even though Ryan’s 6 1/2-year sentence apparently did not.

“If a 14-year sentence doesn’t stop someone, I wouldn’t want to be sitting in front of a judge after that,” he said.

In making a final argument for a sentence of 15 to 20 years, Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar disputed defense attorneys’ claims that Blagojevich’s actions didn’t hurt anyone.

“They completely ignore the fact that the defendant’s criminal activity corrupted the decision making process of the state of Illinois,” Schar added. “His criminal activity, without doubt, has further eroded the public’s trust in government and in government officials.”

Schar also questioned the defense’s honesty in claiming Blagojevich accepts full responsibility for his crimes, implying they were only telling the judge what he wanted to hear and accusing Blagojevich of lying on the stand throughout his seven days of testimony on his own behalf at his second trial.

“He is incredibly manipulative and he knows how to be. To his credit, he’s clever about it,” Schar said. “He picks out one person or a group of 12 sitting in a jury box … and he says what he thinks they want to hear.”

Schar noted that one of the jurors at the second trial was originally from Boston, another was a librarian and another worked at a Greek restaurant and Blagojevich tried to appeal to each juror in his testimony.

“Out of nowhere, we heard about how he loved the city of Boston,” Schar said. He also noted that Blagojevich talked about his own library at home and about stopping at a Greek restaurant for coffee.

“He had it all set out because he had an audience he wanted to get to and he wanted to manipulate that audience to help himself,” Schar said.

In making his plea for mercy, Blagojevich was contrite and said he was “unbelievably sorry,” in stark contrast to his steadfast proclamations of innocence going back to his arrest three years ago.

Before the sentence, an emotional Blagojevich told the judge: “I accept the people’s verdict, judge. They found me guilty and all I can say is I never wanted to hurt anyone … I would hope you can find some mercy.”

Blagojevich also lamented the impact the case has had on his family, particularly his daughters.

“I want to apologize to my wife. I love her. She has stood by me in the worst of times, not only the best of times. … Of course I want to apologize to my children and explain this is not how we saw this,” Blagojevich said. “Because of my stupidity and the mistakes that I’ve talked about … I’ve ruined their innocence. … It’s not like their name is Smith, they can’t hide.”

While Zagel said he gave credit for accepting responsibility for his crimes and for good works on behalf of children while governor, he also said it was too late for the governor to think his concern for his own family would spare him a lengthy sentence for his crimes.

“I don’t doubt his devotion to children, but this is not an unusual situation. … It is not exceptional,” Zagel said. “I see case after case where good fathers are also bad citizens. … If it is any consolation to his children, it is not to stand being convicted of a bad father.”

The judge said the children of felons undoubtedly suffer when their parent goes to prison, but he said the only one to blame for that is the defendant.

Where Blagojevich will serve his time is still to be determined, although his defense team asked that he serve his sentence in a prison camp.

Normally, defendants sentenced to more than 10 years in prison don’t go to prison camps, instead being sent to more traditional prisons, but Zagel said he was likely to recommend a prison camp for Blagojevich. The final decision will be determined by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

READ MORE: Release From U.S. Attorney’s Office

At his retrial earlier this year, Blagojevich, 54, was convicted of 17 charges, including allegations he tried to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Last summer, at his first trial, jurors convicted him of lying to the FBI, but were deadlocked on all other charges.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 15 to 20 years, noting that Blagojevich showed no remorse for his actions and has repeatedly painted the prosecution of him as a political witch hunt.

The defense had pushed for a sentence of as little as probation, arguing that Blagojevich’s actions did not cause any public harm and that h he did not profit from the crimes he was convicted of committing.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin released a statement after the sentencing: “I hope today’s sentencing finally draws this sad chapter in Illinois history to a close.”

Obama cancels “Holiday” trip to Hawaii

Too bad, I’d rather bitch about him going on extended vacation while Rome burns than bitch about him staying in Washington and screwing things up even worse.  I understand that he doesn’t celebrate Christmas anyway.

Got to thinking, since Moochelle and the first brats are going anyway, is this going to be reminiscent of his last trip to Hawaii where it cost several thousand taxpayer dollars to send them on a separate jet and he shows up later?

President Obama won’t go to Hawaii while payroll tax is in limbo

By Alexander Bolton – 12/07/11 01:19 PM ET

President Obama is not vacationing in Hawaii with his wife and children while the extension of the payroll tax holiday remains in limbo, and has warned GOP congressional leaders to stay in town as well.

Obama had planned to fly to Hawaii with his family on Dec. 17 and stay there through New Year’s.

After getting ripped by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his vacation plans, Obama told Senate Democratic leaders Wednesday that he will stay in town until Congress finishes work on the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and other issues.

Obama told Democratic leaders: “Michelle and the girls are going to have a great time in Hawaii, they don’t need me there,” according to Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.).

Romney blasted Obama’s vacation plans on Monday.

“I just think it’s time to have a president whose idea of being ‘hands on’ doesn’t mean getting a better grip on the golf club,” Romney told potential caucus voters in Iowa.

Obama told leaders it would be unacceptable if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) adjourned for Christmas next week without extending a 2-percentage point reduction of the payroll tax.

A White House official disputed the notion that Obama had altered his vacation plans because of Romney’s criticism.

The official noted that Obama had already threatened to spend Christmas with Republicans in Washington if Congress failed to take action on payroll taxes.

“We’re going to keep pushing Congress to make this happen,” Obama said Friday. “Now is not the time to slam the brakes on the recovery. Right now, it’s time to step on the gas. We need to get this done. And I expect that it’s going to get done before Congress leaves. Otherwise, Congress may not be leaving, and we can all spend Christmas here together.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that he would be surprised if Congress left town for the Christmas break without extending the payroll tax rate.

“The president said himself quite explicitly that he, if necessary, will – I think the phrasing was, be here through Christmas,” according to a press report.

RIP Harry Morgan ‘MASH’ Star Dies at Age 96

Published December 07, 2011

Emmy-winning character actor Harry Morgan, whose portrayal of the fatherly Col. Potter on television’s “M-A-S-H” highlighted a show business career that included nine other TV series, 50 films and the Broadway stage, died Wednesday. He was 96.

His daughter-in-law, Beth Morgan, told The Associated Press the actor died at his home in Brentwood, California, after having pneumonia.

Morgan appeared in mostly supporting roles on the big screen, playing opposite such stars as Henry Fonda, John Wayne, James Garner, Elvis Presley and Dan Aykroyd.

On television, he was more the comedic co-star, including roles on “December Bride,” its spin-off “Pete and Gladys,” as Sgt. Joe Friday’s loyal partner in later “Dragnet” episodes and on CBS-TV’s long-running “M-A-S-H” series, for which he earned an Emmy award in 1980.

Yet acting wasn’t Morgan’s first career choice.

Born in Detroit in 1915, Morgan was studying pre-law at the University of Chicago when public speaking classes sparked his interest in the stage. Before long, he was working with a little theater group in Washington, followed by a two-year stint on Broadway in the original production of “Golden Boy,” with Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb.

Morgan made his way to Hollywood in 1942 “without any assurance that I would find work,” he said in a 1976 interview with The Associated Press.

“I didn’t have enough money to go back East, so I stayed around finding jobs mainly out of friendships.”

He signed a contract with 20th Century Fox after a talent scout spotted him in the one-act play, “Hello, Out There.”

One of his earliest films was “The Ox Bow Incident” in 1943 with Fonda. Other films included: “High Noon,” “What Price Glory,” “Support Your Local Sheriff,” “The Apple Dumpling Gang” and “The Shootist.”

Morgan began his television career in 1954 when the medium was in its infancy.

“Television allowed me to kick the Hollywood habit of typing an actor in certain roles,” Morgan said, referring to his typical sidekick or sheriff portrayals on the big screen

In “December Bride,” his first TV series, Morgan played Pete Porter. The CBS series lasted from 1954-1959, when he went on to star in his own series, “Pete and Gladys,” a spinoff of “December Bride.”

Demonstrating his diversity as a character actor and comedian, Morgan also starred in “The Richard Boone Show,” “Kentucky Jones” and “Dragnet.”

But it was his role as Col. Sherman Porter on “M-A-S-H” for which Morgan became best known.

“M-A-S-H was so damned good,” Morgan told the AP. “I didn’t think they could keep the level so high.”

His acting career didn’t stop after the popular series left the air in 1983 after 11 years — one of television’s most successful prime-time runs. Morgan went on to appear in several made-for-TV movies and other television series, such as “AfterMASH” and “Blacke’s Magic.”

When he was not on the set, Morgan enjoyed reading books about the legal profession and poetry. He also liked horses, which he once raised on his Northern California ranch.

Morgan is survived by his second wife, Barbara, and four sons from both marriages: Chris, Charlie, Paul and Danny.


Jerry Sandusky Taken Out of Home in Handcuffs

NBC News is reporting that Jerry Sandusky has been taken out of his home in handcuffs by the Centre County District Attorney’s office.

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2011  |  Updated 1:42 PM EST

NBC News is reporting that Jerry Sandusky has been taken out of his home in handcuffs by the Centre
County District Attorney’s office.

We are efforting more information.

Sara Ganim, the reporter with The Patriot-News, tweeted:

“I’m told additional charges are being filed against Sandusky today.”

Sandusky is scheduled to appear in court next Tuesday, December 13, for his preliminary hearing.

The former Penn State assistant football coach is charged with 40 counts of molesting eight boys over 15 years.

At least six of the eight victims whose stories were part of the Grand Jury report, plan to testify at that hearing.

Yesterday, Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing a camper in 2004. The alleged victim, now 19, told his Harrisburg attorney that he was 12 years old at the time and an overnight camper with The Second Mile charity founded by Sandusky. The man claims that Sandusky gave him whiskey and sexually abused him once inside an office on the Penn State campus.

By phoebe53 Posted in Crime