A federal judge came down hard on former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, sentencing him to 14 years in prison on charges of corruption and lying to federal agents.
The sentence came after Blagojevich made an emotional plea for leniency. U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he gave Blagojevich credit for accepting responsibility, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Prosecutors were seeking a 15- to 20-year sentence for Blagojevich, 54. The then-governor was arrested in 2008 after being caught on tape attempting to "auction off" the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.
"This is tragic, but, as he admits, the fault of this lies with the defendant alone. Now, it is too late," Zagel said from the bench.
A jury found Blagojevich guilty on 18 counts of corruption linked to the Senate seat scandal and other crimes -- such as trying to shake-down a Children's Hospital and other constituents for campaign money in exchange for political favors.
Prior to Rod Blagojevich's sentencing, the politician -- who's known for candidly speaking his mind -- offered a litany of apologies to the judge, jury, and pretty much everyone in Illinois, The Chicago Tribune reported.
"I was the governor, and I should have known better. And I am just so incredibly sorry," Blagojevich said, addressing the court for nearly 20 minutes Wednesday morning. "I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions. ... I would hope you could find some mercy."
You can watch the Associated Press' report on Blagojevich's apology here:
But prosecutors argued Blagojevich didn't deserve leniency. "He is incredibly manipulative and he knows how to be," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar told the judge. "To his credit he's clever about it."
Blagojevich, Illinois' 40th governor, will now head to federal prison. He is the fourth Illinois governor in recent memory to be imprisoned after a conviction, The New York Times reports.
Under federal guidelines, Blagojevich must serve at least 85% of his sentence, or about 12 years, in prison. He must surrender to authorities Feb. 15.
- Blagojevich Sentenced to 14 Years (ABC News)
- Blagojevich tells judge he's sorry for crimes (The Associated Press)
- Rod Blagojevich Guilty of Corruption, Jury Finds (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Florida Grand Jury Calls for Tougher Public Corruption Laws (FindLaw)