So Blagojevich got 14 years and gets to drive himself to a low level Federal prison in February (anyone taking odds on that event occurring?). Three years since his arrest – through which he sat at home – he gets the bad news, as if there were any doubt the time would be significant.
Here’s the thing, right now about 1 out of every 222 federal indictments go to trial, a dismal percentage easily explained (though, apparently, not so readily or easily to the former governor): if you make the US Attorney’s office present the case beyond the indictment stage, your time is going to significantly increase – if not incrementally.
I’ll, unfortunately, use my case – one count of Mail Fraud, as an example. My choices:
- Waive indictment, agree to plea bargain, look at 27-37 months, maybe less;
- Go to indictment, watch time bump up to 32-40 or so, chances of indictment . . . well if they can nail a ham sandwich . . . ;
- The big one, demand a trial, see how the discovery process goes, gauge the wind, decide to plea before jury is impaneled, now looking at 52-70;
- Bigger still, go to trial. Lose (the US Attorney’s office wins about 97% of the time – they don’t take losers to court ) and time starts at 92 months.
Quick reference point – I knew the former head of the Philadelphia Maritime Museum at FMC Devens. Great guy, had the NY Times, NY Review of Books, and a ton of books mailed in every week and he was great about sharing them. His charge was similar to mine on several levels, he went to trial, lost, got 14 years. Enough said.
This is not about fairness, justice, guilt, innocence, retribution, punishment, good, evil, or anything else anyone not intimately involved in the process can conjure up. It’s about reality and having the cold, dead, calculating head of a first class poker player (non-Texas Hold “em, of course) when assumed into this system. It’s putting aside your emotions and your pride and everything else to make the right decision to right your life.
It’s not about you, a concept clearly foreign to Blagojevich. He has kids and he fought this – and make no mistake his ‘this’ was so public he had no chance because the US would have just kept coming Marciano-like until they convicted him of something.(see; Bonds, Barry).
I’m sure Blagojevich had an early offer, I’m sure it was 3-4 years. His hubris did not allow it, he spent all his money, lost, and is leaving for 14 years (or Ecuador).
A plea in December 2008 would probably have seen him home by now after 36 months of camp living, having some kind of conversion, and readying his tell-all memoir. He’d probably be lining up to join Jack Abramof’s book tour.
He just didn’t do the math.