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Rod Blagojevich's Convictions Cut by Federal Appeals Court

Image: Rod Blagojevich's Convictions Cut by Federal Appeals Court
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Frank Polich/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 22 Jul 2015 10:49 AM

Rod Blagojevich got a break on Tuesday when a federal appeals court overturned some of the former Illinois governor's corruption convictions for attempting to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat that got him a 14-year prison sentence.

Blagojevich, 58, could serve less than his original sentence according to the unanimous ruling of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, reported Fox News. The former governor has already served three years.

The judges dismissed five of Blagojevich’s 18 counts and ordered a resentencing, though never explicitly suggesting that the original sentence was too extreme.

Blagojevich’s wife Patti told reporters on Tuesday that her husband was disappointed that the court did not hand him a more decisive legal victory.

“I think most people think the sentence is harsh for someone who never put a penny in his pocket,” she said, adding that the disgraced governor was “optimistic that justice will prevail eventually.”

The court addressed a key question concerning Blagojevich’s case over where the line between legal and illegal political wheeling was drawn, according to The Associated Press. When the former governor attempted to land a Cabinet seat, he didn't cross that line, the court ruled. However, when he attempted to trade Obama’s vacant Senate seat for campaign cash, that crossed the line.

Although the court determined that Blagojevich did attempt to sell the Senate seat for cash, Blagojevich argued that he never explicitly offered to trade the seat for campaign cash.

But “few politicians say, on or off the record, ‘I will exchange official act X for payment Y,’” the opinion said. “Similarly, persons who conspire to rob banks or distribute drugs do not propose or sign contracts in the statutory language.”

However, the court also ruled that “If the (Blagojevich) prosecutor is right, and a swap of political favors involving a job for one of the politicians is a felony, then…both the President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the United States should have gone to prison,” the ruling said, referencing when Dwight Eisenhower named Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court after Warren offered Eisenhower support for his political campaign in 1952.

The prosecutors will now decide whether to appeal the ruling, retry Blagojevich, or agree to let the charges drop altogether, according to The Washington Post.

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Rod Blagojevich got a break on Tuesday when a federal appeals court overturned some of the former Illinois governor's corruption convictions for attempting to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat that got him a 14-year prison sentence.
rod blagojevich, convictions, cut, appeals court
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Wednesday, 22 Jul 2015 10:49 AM
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