CHICAGO - In a bid to avoid a long prison sentence, Rod Blagojevich is expected to argue that he was an effective governor who cared about people, that he was led by his advisers through the schemes for which he was convicted, and that did not profit from them.
But legal experts said Blagojevich likely faces an uphill battle with U.S. District Judge James Zagel at his sentencing hearing starting Tuesday. Zagel is expected to sentence Blagojevich Wednesday.
"He's handled this about as badly as a criminal defendant can," said Steven Miller, a former supervisor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago who is now in private practice. Blagojevich has thumbed his nose at the process every step of the way, and now he will ask for leniency, Miller said.
Blagojevich's lawyers contend that he was not the leader of a criminal conspiracy, and that he didn't make a nickel from corruption. They say he faces up to a little more than four years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but that he should be given much less time, even probation.
Prosecutors will argue Blagojevich led others through criminal schemes in an attempt to bring in about $1.6 million in campaign money. They say he could be sentenced to life in prison under the guidelines, but recommend 15 to 20 years.
Blagojevich was convicted last summer of 17 corruption counts for several attempted shakedowns, including an attempt to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate.
"One factor is that there have now been roughly 50 years of almost continuous public corruption investigations by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago," Miller said. There's a sense that "the price has to be increased if there's to be any desired effect."