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Fawell’s tip to Blagojevich: Cut time off sentence with prison rehab

Scott Fawell AndreCoutretsis arrive WTTW-TV studios wait be interviewed by Carol Marin. (Phoby Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

Scott Fawell and Andrea Coutretsis arrive at WTTW-TV studios and wait to be interviewed by Carol Marin. (Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

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Updated: January 10, 2012 8:27AM

Scott Fawell, the former chief of staff of a different convicted governor, George Ryan, is offering a tip on how Rod Blagojevich can cut his lengthy 14-year sentence.

The former governor may be able to make a request with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to take part in a substance abuse program.

Fawell said that’s what he did before going into prison.

“What you do is say that in between the time you’re sentenced and the time you report, you just couldn’t stop drinking,” Fawell said.

It shaved time off of Fawell’s 78-month sentence he received for corruption that happened while he worked for Ryan. He went through a nine-month program in prison, then got six months off in a halfway house plus one year of credit for doing the program. That’s on top of time off for good behavior.

“I didn’t want to do it at first. I said: ‘I’m going to save a little shred of dignity,’ ” he said. “But it’s the only game in town. It’s the only way you can get time off” in the federal system.

Fawell called the Blagojevich camp a few days ago (they shared a defense attorney) and he talked about the option, he said.

Fawell said he had to interview with a prison counselor when he first reported to his Yankton, S.D., prison.

“They told me, don’t short change it and say you have a few glasses of wine,” Fawell said. “Go all out.”

Blagojevich’s lawyers could not be reached Thursday. There have been no public filings by Blagojevich’s defense team indicating any kind of drinking or substance problem.

Some defendants in the past have been jabbed for “finding alcohol” before prison rather than “finding Jesus” as a way of cutting the prison term.

But a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman, Ed Ross, said there has to be a documented history of abuse for an inmate to qualify for the program and that an inmate has to be evaluated before being accepted into the program.

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