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Blagojevich lawyers want probation at rescheduled sentencing

Rod Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich

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Updated: January 8, 2012 1:15AM

After former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing was officially delayed Monday, the defense revealed it planned to ask a federal judge to spare the former governor from prison.

“He’s a fit candidate for probation. The taxpayers never lost a dime. Blagojevich never received a dime,” attorney Sheldon Sorosky said of his client who was convicted on 17 of 20 counts of corruption in June. “All the talk involving campaign contributions involved regular campaign donors who were just discussing with Blagojevich how much to give or who were big campaign contributors in the past.”

The defense’s take is in stark contrast to that of the prosecution, which has calculated Blagojevich’s potential sentence at 30 years to life in prison. The government has not made a recommendation to the judge. Factored into the prosecution’s range was the potential loss of $1.5 million — what Blagojevich thought supporters of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. would pay if Blagojevich had appointed Jackson to the Senate seat. Neither the appointment, nor the payment happened. The defense has argued that it was never going to happen.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Monday delayed Blagojevich’s sentencing, originally set for Oct. 6, and did not give a new date. Sorosky said he believes the new date would happen in early November.

Starting Monday, Zagel is set to oversee the three-week trial of Springfield powerbroker — and onetime Blagojevich co-defendant — William Cellini. Cellini is accused of attempting to extort a businessman seeking state business for a Blagojevich campaign contribution.

Blagojevich was convicted of trying to extract a job or campaign contribution in exchange for appointing a replacement to President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. He was also convicted of holding up official acts while governor as he sought contributions from potential donors.

Legal experts have said that Blagojevich is likely to face a sentence of about 10 to 12 years.

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