clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fellow inmates praise ‘The Gov’

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich walks into the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in Littleton, Colo., on March 15, 2012, to begin his 14-year sentence for corruption. | RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post, distributed by the Associated Press

In Illinois, Rod Blagojevich is known as the crass and obnoxious former governor who once told an aide “I’ve got this thing and it’s f—ing golden … and I’m not giving it up for f—ing nothing.”

In Colorado, he is regarded as a humble and thoughtful federal inmate known simply as “The Gov.”

“I don’t believe there is a man alive that I respect and appreciate more than Rod,” one inmate wrote last fall of Illinois’ imprisoned ex-chief executive.

After years of fighting for his innocence, Blagojevich’s case is set to return next month to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Zagel. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year tossed five of Blagojevich’s 18 criminal convictions, and he is set to be re-sentenced on the remaining 13. Late Monday, federal prosecutors asked Zagel to reinstate Blagojevich’s original 14-year prison sentence.

But Blagojevich’s attorneys asked the judge to sentence the former governor to five years in prison — a sentence that could quickly spring the imprisoned Democrat, who has already served four years behind bars in a federal prison in Colorado. And along with the memo they filed late Monday, they filed 141 pages of letters mostly from fellow inmates praising Blagojevich’s character.

“Rod is a man who loves his family,” another inmate wrote. “He loves sports. He loves good intellectual discussion and the exchange of ideas. He loves to help other people. He loves this country even though it has treated him much more poorly than he deserves. He is, in short, a leader and a good man. I have never met a man more deserving of a second chance than Rod Blagojevich.”

Many inmates, whose names were redacted, wrote that Blagojevich spends his time reading, running, and working out at the gym.

“By the way, don’t tell the fine folks in Chicago that Rod Blagojevich enjoys watching the Dallas Cowboys!” one wrote.

The final letter came not from an inmate, but from U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

“I take very seriously the role of public servant and elected official,” Schakowsky wrote, “and it’s true that Rod did not always measure up, but he also did much good for many people in our state. Rod Blagojevich made serious mistakes and he and his family have already paid a heavy price for them. It is my great hope that the court takes this into consideration and allows Rod Blagojevich to be reunited with his family at the earliest time possible.”