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Blagojevich asks for presidential commutation

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich | AP file photo

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is seeking a presidential commutation, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

The longshot request comes more than four months after U.S. District Judge James Zagel reinstated the 14-year prison sentence Blagojevich, 60, is serving for a series of schemes that included his attempt to sell then-President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.

The news of Blagojevich’s commutation request also comes days after Blagojevich’s lawyer, Leonard Goodman, filed a brief with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking for yet another sentencing hearing.

The 7th Circuit in July 2015 tossed five of Blagojevich’s 18 convictions, but it found “it is not possible to call 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich’s crimes.”

Goodman declined to comment on Blagojevich’s commutation request. Blagojevich is slated to leave prison in May 2024.

“We typically don’t comment on individual clemency applications” a White House spokesman said.

A president may commute a sentence to time served or reduce it. But the action is described on the Pardon Attorney’s website as an “extraordinary remedy that is rarely granted.” It also notes that commutation requests are generally not accepted “from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding,” like Blagojevich.

Contributing: Lynn Sweet