The wife of imprisoned former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich took to her Facebook page Thursday morning to vent about the very lenient sentence given to her husband's former chief of staff.
On Wednesday, John Harris, who was a top aide to Blagojevich, was sentenced to just 10 days behind bars for helping his old boss try to sell President Barack Obama's old Senate seat. Blagojevich received a 14-year prison sentence from the same judge, James Zagel.
"I can't help but wonder what planet we are on," Patti Blagojevich posted on her Facebook wall Thursday. "10 days vs. 5110 days, a sentence that is 51,100% higher than Rod. How do you explain that to your children?"
Harris received leniency from Zagel after prosecutors heaped praise on the former lawyer, who testified against Blagojevich and became their "most important witness" at the ex-governor's corruption trials. Unlike Blagojevich, who fought the more numerous charges against him until he recently reported to prison, prosecutors said Harris "owned up" to his misdeeds within days of his Dec. 9, 2008, arrest.
"In seeking to maintain (Blagojevich's) confidence, I lost my way," Harris told the judge.
In a rare display of empathy, the grizzled judge went so far as to speculate about what he would have done confronted by a superior like Blagojevich.
"I can't say that in your position, I wouldn't have done the same thing," he told Harris.
Patti Blagojevich isn't the only one who felt her husband's sentence was excessive. After he reported to a Colorado prison earlier this month, Colorado Springs Gazette writer Wayne Laugesen wrote that Rod Blagojevich doesn't belong in prison at all, adding that his children will suffer the most.
"Blagojevich is a criminal and deserves punishment. But he is not a violent person," Laugesen wrote. "We should cage people who pose violent threats to society if left to roam freely. We could protect society, and punish Blagojevich, by simply imposing an enormous fine, banning him from public service of any sort, and monitoring his communication and financial activities for decades. We could take from him the power and tools he used to commit crimes of political corruption. We could demand financial reparation. We could punish Blagojevich without causing irreparable harm to his innocent children."
The former governor's brother, Robert Blagojevich, called the sentence "draconian" and "just wrong."
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