Prosecutor U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald: Blagojevich’s 14-Yr Prison Sentence Sends Message, ‘This Must Stop’

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says the 14-year sentence handed to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sends a strong messag to all public officials when it comes to corruption.

It’s profoundly sad that we’re here for the second time in five years to discuss the conviction and sentencing of a governor of Illinois. As Judge Zagel put it, when a governor goes bad, the fabric of Illinois is torn. There’s been too much fabric torn in Illinois. In any sate it would be awful if two governors were convicted in a century. In Illinois we’ve seen it happen twice in five years.

The 14-year sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge James Zagel is more than double the prison term given to former Governor George Ryan, who was sentenced 6 ½-years in 2006, and is in federal prison in Terre Haute.

TRANSCRIPT FROM U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald:
Today’s sentence of 14 years for Governor Blagojevich sends a strong message that the public has had enough and judges have had enough. This needs to stop. To put it very, very simply. We don’t want to be back here again. And the message that needs to go out to officials who will think about being corrupt, is that the consequences not just for the state, but for people who go corrupt themselves are severe — appropriately severe. And the message that needs to go out as well, is that public officials who would think about being corrupt, who would think about asking people to pay them for thing, should understand the fear that the public will come forward. That if the public comes forward, the people represented by the people behind me will investigate and prosecute, jurors will sift patiently through the evidence and convict, and judges will impose very, very appropriately heavy sentences. The short answer is: ‘This must stop.’

Former Governor Blagojevich doesn’t report to federal prison until February 16, 2012.