A U.S. federal judge upheld the 14-year prison sentence for ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, to which his brother said ''How much, how much can you squeeze out of turnip? I don't know. He deserves a break.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday (August 9) upheld the 14-year prison sentence for ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich despite his emotional plea for leniency after an appeals court set aside part of his public corruption conviction. U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel ruled Blagojevich must remain in a Colorado prison, siding with the demand by prosecutors that he serve out his original, full term through 2024. His brother Robert said he was disappointed with the ruling. "He's admitted culpability and responsibility. "How much, how much can you squeeze out of turnip? I don't know. He deserves a break," Robert told reporters. Seeking a five-year sentence that would enable him to leave prison quickly, Blagojevich, 59, apologized for his wrongdoing and the way he "fought back" against the government. "I recognize that it was my words and my actions that led me here. I've made many mistakes," he said via a closed-circuit television feed from his prison in Colorado. Blagojevich, who took office in 2003, was impeached in 2009 and later indicted and convicted on charges that he attempted to sell then-President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder in late 2008. Speaking to reporters after Rod's court appearance, his wife Patti said "we find his sentence unusually cruel and heartless and unfair." In 2015, a federal appeals court set aside nearly a third of the convictions, ruling that improper jury instructions could have allowed jurors to convict Blagojevich merely for seeking a White House appointment from Obama in exchange for naming presidential aide Valerie Jarrett to the open U.S. Senate seat. The appeals court argued that seeking favoritism from the president in exchange for an appointment of his liking amounted to "a form of logrolling" that is acceptable in politics. Justifying keeping Blagojevich's existing sentence in place, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Riggs Bonamici told the federal court that Blagojevich is "the same man" he was when convicted in 2011, and his actions "further revoked trust in public officials."