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Blagojevich begins 14-year prison term

March 15, 2012 at 1:51 PM
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LITTLETON, Colo., March 15 (UPI) -- Disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Thursday reported to a federal prison in Littleton, Colo., to begin a 14-year sentence for corruption.

The mercurial and often ebullient Democrat arrived at the prison outside Denver by car after apparently getting lost on the way to the minimum-security facility. The black Volvo SUV carrying the former governor and his lawyers went past the main entrance to the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood and had to turn around. Blagojevich was early and the vehicle drove around the facility for more than an hour with news helicopters hovering overhead passing the facility several times.

He was seen talking on a cell phone and reportedly stopped at a roadside restaurant in the bright Colorado sun before finally reporting to the prison that may be his home until 2026. He walked slowly through the prison door carrying a backback.

Blagojevich, 55, arrived in Denver Thursday morning on an American Eagle flight and took a few minutes to thank the people of Illinois who twice elected him governor in 2002 and 2006. He was impeached and removed from office in 2009.

"I'm still hopeful in the future. I'm still, as I said yesterday, in the same place as I was when I talked to the judge back in December," he said.

Blagojevich, the second consecutive former Illinois governor currently in prison, was convicted last June on 18-counts of corruption including attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Blagojevich was recorded on federal wiretaps trying to arrange a six-figure job in return for the Senate appointment. In prison, he will get up at dawn each day to work eight hours at a menial job paying 12 cents an hour.

Former Enron chief executive Jeff Skilling is also an inmate at the low-security Colorado prison.

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