Ex-governor gets 14 years in Obama seat scam

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Barack Obama
Chicago, Dec 7: Ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison today for trying to auction off President Barack Obama's vacated US Senate seat and a host of other corruption charges.

The Democratic governor was arrested in the midst of what prosecutors called a "political corruption crime spree" just weeks after Obama's historic November 2008 election.

He was convicted of 17 corruption counts in June after his first trial resulted in a hung jury on all but one of the charges. "The harm here is not measured in the value of money and property," Judge James Zagel told Blagojevich in handing down the sentence.

"The harm is the erosion of the public trust in government; (people's) confidence in and trust in government." The expletive-laden transcripts of Blagojevich's secretly recorded conversations and his subsequent antics created fascinating political theatre. While Obama managed to emerge untainted, the scandal shone a spotlight on the state's corruption-filled political scene and cast a shadow on his early days in office.

Five of the past nine Illinois governors have been indicted or arrested for fraud or bribery, and Blagojevich's predecessor, Republican George Ryan, is currently serving a six-and-a-half year jail term for fraud and racketeering. Blagojevich's lawyers urged Zagel not to make an example of Blagojevich, noting that Blagojevich never lined his pockets like other recently convicted politicians, but instead was merely convicted of pushing for campaign donations and a plum job in exchange for political favours. 

AFP

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