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Blagojevich's Drug Problem? Lawyers Request Treatment That Could Shorten Sentence

Blagojevich

First Posted: 12/14/11 02:39 PM ET Updated: 12/15/11 03:03 PM ET

As if former Governor Rod Blagojevich didn't have enough to worry about,

ABC Chicago reports that the ex-governor's attorneys have asked for Blagojevich to be placed in a residential drug abuse program during his prison sentence. They say they can document a pattern of substance abuse in the 12 months before the former governor was arrested in December of 2008.

The plan may have come from Scott Fawell, chief of staff of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, who is currently serving time after being convicted on 18 corruption charges in 2006. Fawell, who served 78 months for his part in Ryan's corruption, says his prison time was shortened by a year and a half based on credit he earned for completing a nine-month program while inside. He recommended Blagojevich do the same.

"What you do is say that in between the time you're sentenced and the time you report, you just couldn't stop drinking," Fawell told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I didn't want to do it at first. I said: 'I'm going to save a little shred of dignity. But it's the only game in town. It's the only way you can get time off" in the federal system, he said.

Fawell told the Sun-Times that this option was explained to him by a prison counselor when he began his sentence -- and he called the Blagojevich defense team last week to discuss the option.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Cramer told ABC Chicago that Blagojevich's attorneys will have to prove their client's substance abuse problem predates the decision that granted him a 14 year sentence.

"It wasn't mentioned during the first trial, it wasn't mentioned during the the second trial at all, even when he testified, so I think that you have look at that a little skeptically," Cramer said.

Blagojevich's prison report date was already pushed back one month by Judge James Zagel Tuesday. The former governor requested extra time before beginning his sentence to help his family move.

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Filed by Lizzie Schiffman  |