Update: The U.S. Attorney's Office issued a statement Thursday in response to news reports about former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's possible sentence:
“The government has not recommended a sentence publicly or privately, not withstanding news reports to the contrary. The government has submitted a calculation of the advisory sentencing guidelines, as it is required to do in all cases. The sentencing guideline formulas are established by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The government submitted that calculation to the probation office as is standard practice and we will not comment on those calculations publicly.”
Federal prosecutors gearing up for former governor Rod Blagojevich's Oct. 6 sentencing hearing could recommend he serve 30 years to life in prison.
Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky called the reported sentencing range "draconian and harsh and cruel" and said the recommendation the defense will submit will be "far, far, far under" those numbers, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The prosecution's calculation, which was submitted in private, is based on the former governor's June conviction on 17 of 20 counts of corruption, including an attempt to sell Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
Former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins, who prosecuted Blagojevich's predecessor former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, told ABC Chicago that while the government tries to send a message about political corruption by requesting harsh sentences, the final sentencing tends to be less antagonistic.
"In the George Ryan case, for example, when we did our calculations, we came up with 12 or 13 or 14 years," Collins told ABC Chicago. "The judge gave him 6 and a 1/2. Not to say that is the ratio that will hold here, but everybody should understand this is the starting point. The government will clearly be on the aggressive side."
Blagojevich's attorneys will likely argue that, since the former governor didn't take money for the crimes for which he was convicted, excessive prison time is unnecessary, the Sun-Times reports. Even at the low end of the prosecution's calculations, Blagojevich would be serving more time than former Congressman Mel Reynolds for having sex with a 16-year-old campaign worker, and longer even than some murder convictions, ABC Chicago reports.
Federal prosecutors have yet to make an official recommendation, and when they do it will be advisory, as are sentencing guidelines, so U.S. District Judge James Zagel will have a wide discretion over the final decision. The tentative Oct. 6 sentencing date may be rescheduled, as Zagel is scheduled to begin the corruption trial of a Springfield power broker on Oct. 3, Sorosky told the Sun-Times.
WATCH analysis of the sentencing calculations: