Blagojevich Sentencing Hearing: Lawyers Request Special Hearing, Airing Of Silenced Tapes

11/28/2011 05:06 pm ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011

While gearing up for the former governor's Dec. 6 sentencing, Rod Blagojevich's attorneys have requested that previously unaired recordings obtained during federal surveillance to be made public, and for a special hearing to review questions that arose during Tony Rezko's sentencing about lobbyist John Wyma, who testified in the former governor's trial.

Blagojevich's attorneys filed the request on Thanksgiving Day, arguing that unaired audio recordings illustrate his "state of mind and lack of ill intent," WBEZ reports, which they believe could lead to a reduced prison sentence.

The former governor was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts of corruption charges June 27, including trying to sell President Barack Obama's former Senate seat. Audio recordings obtained by federal investigators using wiretaps were a key component to the prosecution's case.

Blagojevich's lawyers listed 180 recordings they may want to cite in his sentencing memorandum due Nov. 30 and at his sentencing hearing, including two conversations with Rahm Emanuel, one call with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and others with various consultants and attorneys, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The ex-governor is also requesting an evidentiary hearing to consider new information revealed about lobbyist and former Blagojevich friend John Wyma that arose in filings related to Tony Rezko's Nov. 22 sentencing.

While Wyma was representing Provena Health as a lobbyist, Provena was granted a previously-contested certificate of need from an Illinois hospital board, which Rezko reportedly told prosecutors had been secured by paying off a hospital board member, according to the Sun-Times. Wyma was issued a subpoena based on that allegation, which prompted him to serve as an informant for the government and assist in wiretapping Blagojevich's phones.

The attorneys allege that, once the taps had been secured, prosecutors dismissed Rezko's allegations against Wyma, calling Rezko's information "not substantiated."

"If the incriminating evidence against Wyma was not substantiated because it was not investigated, the government's statement is misleading," defense lawyers wrote in their filing, according to another Sun-Times report. On this basis, they claim they weren't able to properly cross-examine Wyma in Blagojevich's corruption trial.

Last week, Rezko was sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison. Many are expecting Blagojevich's sentence to be even harsher.

"This sentence and what is likely to be a similarly harsh sentence for ex-Gov. Blagojevich should represent the strongest one-two punch we've ever seen to would-be corrupters of our government," Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, told the Associated Press last week.

Brian Gladstein, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, told the AP, "we have a court system that is now holding these people accountable that no matter how much power you have or what position you are, you are not untouchable."

CONVERSATIONS