White Collar Crime – Former Illinois Governor Corruption Case
If you are accused of federal public corruption, this is considered a serious crime. Public officials are especially held to a higher standard. When someone in public office is accused or arrested for public corruption while serving, the consequences are severe. You may be removed from office and face impeachment as well as face federal prison time and fines if you are convicted. It is also a crime under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, for someone to lie to federal government agents which includes knowingly and willfully making any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation or lying regarding about any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States. Many times innocent people are unaware that they may have committed a public corruption crime and/or they might get caught up in the sweep of a government investigation for corruption. The government takes these crimes serious and prosecutes them vigorously. Judges also hand down strict sentences. These matters should not be taken lightly.
The recent trial and a conviction of former Governor of Illinois Rod R. Blagojevich is an example of a public official misusing power and participating in acts of political corruption. Blagojevich was found guilty, of which he was sentenced on December 8, 2011 in U.S. District Court by Judge James Zagel, to 14 years on 18 counts for public corruption. Although Blagojevich apologized and made a plea for leniency, his sentence was the second longest ever sentence in a federal court in Chicago for public corruption. The judge’s message for such a harsh sentence was that Blagojevich had a history of corruption while serving as Governor of the State of Illinois, including the discussion between the Governor and an aide for attempting to sell Obama’s senate seat and obtaining a $300,000 a year job from the Service Employees International Union for naming a candidate to fill the vacant seat after Obama was elected President of the United States, for illegal shakedowns for campaign cash and lying to federal agents. The judge stated that he believed Blagojevich had caused “…damage to the fabric of the State of Illinois… which cannot be easily repaired.”
Blagojevich’s claimed he was innocent, that his legal counsel never stopped him from committing any illegal actions and that he never intended there to be a “quid pro quo for the Senate seat.” Blagojevich was the first Governor of Illinois to be impeached and involuntarily removed from office. He is expected to start serving his sentence on March 15, 2012. His predecessor Governor George Ryan was also found guilty of public corruption and sentenced to a 6 ½ year prison term. Under federal sentencing guidelines and rules, Blagojevich won’t be eligible for release until 2024, at which time he will be 67 years old.
While receiving political campaign contributions is legal, “depriving the public of honest service” is illegal. When there is evidence that a public official tries to seek something of value in return for an official action, that can be considered a public corruption offense. If you are suspected of political corruption or public corruption or you have been arrested for such an offense, it is imperative that you hire a white collar criminal defense attorney immediately to develop a legal strategy to defend you. What you say and do can have lasting and profound effect on your case, so before you speak to investigators, you should consult with your legal counsel. The attorney can assert your first amendment rights and other defenses to either prevent charges from being filed against you, get your case dismissed or get your charges reduced to a lesser charge by having you plea acceptance of responsibility or a plea for leniency.
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