CHICAGO (AP) - Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to order former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to serve his entire 14-year prison term when he returns to court for resentencing next month, but his attorneys want about nine years lopped off his sentence.
The motions are part of a legal battle between federal prosecutors and the former governor's attorneys over the sentence imposed in 2011 by U.S. District Judge James Zagel after a jury convicted Blagojevich of 18 corruption counts, including attempting to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat once occupied by President Barack Obama. In March, several months after a federal appeals court panel tossed five of 18 counts against Blagojevich, prosecutors said they would not retry him on those counts and requested that he return to Zagel's courtroom for resentencing.
A 14-page filing by the U.S. attorney's office at midnight Monday said that "nothing in the dismissal of the five counts undermines the need for a very significant sentence ... to deter current and future public officials from engaging in similar criminal activity."
They also said that Blagojevich has never taken responsibility for his crimes.
A defense memo asks Zagel to drastically reduce Blagojevich's sentence to "in the neighborhood of" five years of incarceration accompanied by a period of supervised release. It cited, among other things, his model behavior in prison.
It noted that the Elvis Presley fan has studied guitar and even formed a band called "The Jailhouse Rockers" that performed for other inmates.
Neither motion was surprising. Blagojevich's attorneys have long argued that the sentence was too much.
However, Zagel is not expected to significantly reduce one of the longest corruption sentences ever imposed in Illinois. Even in its ruling last year, the appeals court did not hint that the sentence should be reduced. In fact, it indicated that even without the tossed convictions the 14-year sentence was appropriate. It also suggested that Zagel might have gone too easy on Blagojevich.
Letting the sentence stand or reducing it by just a few months would be another legal defeat for Blagojevich. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Blagojevich's appeal on the remaining corruption convictions. Then in May, the same court, without comment, rejected his long-shot petition that urged the court to take another look at the case.
In June, when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the bribery conviction of a former Virginia governor, Blagojevich's attorney quickly said he did not expect that decision to affect Blagojevich's case.
The resentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9. If the judge lets the 14-year sentence stand, Blagojevich would have to serve 85 percent of it, meaning the earliest he could be eligible for release is early 2024.