Some questions and observations following today’s verdict in the retrial of the former governor:
+ If you total the prison time from the 17 of 20 guilty counts, in addition to the charge from the first trial of lying to the FBI, Blago would spend more than 300 years in prison—reminiscent of the 150-year sentence that Bernie Madoff is serving for the greatest Ponzi scheme in history. But Northwestern Law Professor Sam Tenenbaum, with whom I’ve consulted throughout both trials, says that Judge Zagel likely will go easy on the former gov since Blago “received no direct economic benefit. My guess is [he’ll] serve six to eight years…. The judge won’t give him probation or a couple of years, but he’s not going to give him 20 years, either.” Blagojevich likely will miss the high-school graduation of his older daughter, but not necessarily her college graduation—assuming he has any money to send her to college. As for the millions in fines that each conviction carries, Tenenbaum guesses Zagel will fine Blago about $50,000.
+ Last week, at Conrad Black’s resentencing hearing—held at the same Dirksen Federal Building in which Blago faced his fate—the tough-as-nails journalist Barbara Amiel fainted when she learned that her husband would be sent back to prison for 13 months. Today Patti Blagojevich didn’t quite faint, but she collapsed in the arms of her brother, Richard Mell Jr.
+ Which leads to another curiosity. Mell Jr. has been stalwart in his support of Patti; so has their sister, State Representative Deb Mell, a frequent presence in the courtroom and at the Blago home. Their sibling solidarity is a model for any family. After the verdicts were rendered this afternoon, I called their father, Alderman Richard Mell—the man who made his son-in-law a state rep, then a congressman, and finally the governor. If not for the wily Mell, Blago would have remained a low-level lawyer or moved on to something else—selling suits at Saks, perhaps. A argument with his father-in-law and public statements by Mell brought Blago to the feds’ attention. The two stopped speaking, but since the death of Mell’s wife, there’s been a reconciliation and some warming of relations in the family. Still, Mell has remained silent throughout this ordeal. When I called his ward office today, I spoke with an assistant who asked me what the call was “in reference to.” When I told her I wanted to talk to her boss about Blago, she snapped, “He’s not speaking to nobody.”
+ Aaron Goldstein, one of Blago’s attorneys—and the most active of his team—had better hustle to get new website and email addresses. His current ones, which reflect his time on 26th and California and his ties to Sam Adam Jr. and Sr.—he rents space in their offices—are notguiltyinchicago.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.