Blagojevich could face 20 years for being convicted of 17 criminal counts

By Howard Breuer
Updated June 27, 2011 08:00 PM
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Credit: Todd Williamson/WireImage

Rod Blagojevich, the former two-term Illinois governor who became a national punchline and a reality show contestant after he tried to sell Barack Obama s vacated U.S. Senate seat, was convicted Monday of 17 federal corruption charges and is looking at 10 to 20 years in prison.

Blagojevich, 54, told reporters that he and his wife Patti were shocked, and are bracing to break the news to their daughters, who are 8 and 14.

“I, frankly, am stunned,” the bushy-haired Blagojevich said after the verdicts were announced. “Among the many lessons I’ve learned from this whole experience is to try to speak a little bit less, so I’m going to keep my remarks kind of short. There’s not much left to say other than we want to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and then try to sort things out.”

A pre-sentencing hearing was set for Aug. 1.

The jury heard a simplified version of a case last August where a jury convicted Blagojevich of lying to the FBI but deadlocked on 23 other counts.

This time, he was convicted of 17 criminal counts including wire fraud, attempted extortion, bribery and conspiracy. The jury acquitted Blagojevich on one count and deadlocked on two others.

Testifying in his defense, Blagojevich claimed prosecutors twisted his wiretapped comments and that he was only guilty of thinking out loud. Defense lawyers emphasized that none of the illegal plots came to fruition.

The convictions bring a somber ending to the career of a scrappy politician who reveled in his newfound infamy by appearing on numerous talk shows, and on Celebrity Apprentice (where he was fired), and by sending Patti to a jungle – where she had to eat a tarantula – on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.