FOX 32 NEWS - A former prison inmate who spent time with Rod Blagojevich behind bars says that the former governor's separation from his family is "absolutely killing him."
Blagojevich’s 14 year sentence will get another look from a judge next week.
FOX 32’s Larry Yellen interviewed the former inmate, who also once shared a prison stage with Blagojevich.
When he was free, Rod Blagojevich would occasionally break into his Elvis Presley imitation. It's been a crowd pleaser behind bars too, according to a California man who served time with Blagojevich at the Englewood Correctional Center outside Denver.
“Everyone really loved it. You know, Rod's the kind of guy, you know, just being around him, everyone he touches, he touches in a positive way,” Ernie said.
His name is Ernie. He agreed to talk with FOX 32 if we did not reveal his identity. He served four years for smuggling drugs until his release two and a half years ago. He worked in the prison's band room, where Blagojevich came looking for guitar lessons.
“We would just go out, the two of us, sit on the grass, wherever we could get alone, and practice, and he worked really hard and did a good job,” Ernie said.
But Ernie says Blagojevich's real strength wasn't the guitar.
“When He sang, I said, we really have something here to work with!” Ernie said.
Blagojevich became the lead singer for a band called the Jailhouse Rockers. Ernie was lead guitar. They performed at prison graduations and on holidays. Ernie's recollections of Blagojevich are the first we've heard from anyone whose done time with the former governor.
“Patti and his daughters are everything to him. And if anything weighs on his heart, it's that right there. As a father and a husband, it's killing him to be there. Absolutely killing him,” Ernie said.
There was one area, however, that Ernie would not discuss.
FOX 32: Are the pictures that depict him with a full head of gray hair pretty accurate?
Ernie: “Rod has a beautiful full head of hair.”
FOX 32: White? Or dark?
Ernie: “I’m not going there. I’m sorry, but that will have to remain the sixty four thousand dollar question. I can't go there. I won’t' do that.”
FOX 32 asked Ernie whether he recalls Blagojevich ever displaying any of the flashes of anger that surfaced on tapes played at the Blagojevich trials. Ernie said he'd never seen him exhibit that kind of behavior.
Blagojevich is in the fifth year of his fourteen year sentence. The judge will sentence him again next week because five of his original eighteen corruption counts were thrown out by an appellate court.