Online Staff Report
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) will begin his 14-year prison sentence for corruption charges Thursday, March 15.
The former governor left his Chicago home earlier in the day March 15 wearing a dark shirt, sport coat and blue jeans. He was not accompanied by his wife, although she could be seen through the windows of the home. One of the couple’s two daughters could also be seen peeking out a window.
“I’m leaving with a heavy heart, a clear conscience and I have high, high hopes for the future,” Blagojevich, 55, said to a throng of reporters, photographers and cameramen gathered outside his home. Well-wishers also gathered to offer their encouragement.
Blagojevich was then followed by helicopters and television news crews as he made his way to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to board a flight to Colorado.
According to reports, fellow passengers on the American Airlines flight said Blagojevich was talkative and was interacting with passengers. However, they said his mood diminished when he got off the plane at Denver International Airport about three hours after departing Chicago.
At the airport, Blagojevich told reporters he was “grateful beyond words for the expressions of support for giving them a chance to serve” the people of Illinois.
“I’m doing something that I never imagined would be possible,” Blagojevich added. “I’m still hopeful for the future. …. Among the things I take with me is a real sense of pride in the things I could achieve for people.”
After addressing the media, Blagojevich got into a waiting car to head to Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in suburban Denver. News reports said the car appeared to get lost on its way to the prison or take an indirect route. Reportedly, the car drove past the prison’s front entrance and turned around to head another direction.
Blagojevich was spotted outside the car talking on his cellphone and also was spotted going to a restaurant.
Blagojevich is expected to report to the Colorado prison by 2 p.m., March 15. When he enters prison, he will undergo a full-body strip search and hand over his personal belongings, except for his wedding ring. He will be Inmate No. 40892-424.
Blagojevich, who served as the 40th governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, on 18 criminal counts involving the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, illegal shakedowns for campaign cash and lying to federal agents.
Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery Dec. 9, 2008.
Jan. 9, 2009, The Illinois House of Representatives voted 114-1 to impeach Blagojevich for corruption and misconduct in office, the first time such an action had been taken against an Illinois governor. The Illinois State Senate unanimously found Blagojevich guilty of the charges of impeachment, and he was removed from office Jan. 29, 2009.
Current Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who was the sitting lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the governor’s office upon Blagojevich’s removal. Quinn is now serving his first elected term as governor after being elected in 2010.
Blagojevich is the second consecutive Illinois governor to be convicted of corruption charges. His predecessor, George Ryan, 78, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison Sept. 6, 2006, for the illegal sale of government licenses, contracts and leases by state employees during his prior service as Secretary of State. Ryan is scheduled for release July 4, 2013.
Posted March 15, 2012