When lawyers for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich requested that he attend drug rehabilitation in prison, some thought it was just a move to shave a year or two off his stiff sentence. But a report that surfaced Friday indicates that he might have a serious issue after all.
A "top Blago source" told Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times that Blagojevich "can’t sleep without drinking" and indicated that his legal woes in recent years led him to rely on booze.
When Blagojevich's attorneys asked Judge James Zagel that their client be placed in a drug program, they said they would be able to document a pattern of substance abuse in the 12 months before the former governor was arrested in December of 2008.
Some eyebrows were raised, however, when Scott Fawell, chief of staff of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, openly suggested to reporters that substance abuse is a common tactic used by defense attorneys to reduce a sentence.
Fawell served 78 months for his part in Ryan's corruption, and said 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.
Sneed reports that if Blagojevich enters into a prison rehabilitation program and earns time off for good behavior, he will likely serve 10 1/2 years of his 14-year sentence.
Blagojevich has also requested that he be placed at a low-security prison in Littleton, Colo., near Denver. His family does not plan on moving to Colorado.