Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Just hours after he was ordered freed by President Donald Trump, prison inmate and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was released from custody and returned home Tuesday night for the first time in nearly eight years.
Trump commuted Blagojevich's 14-year sentence, which the former politician drew following convictions on 17 federal counts of corruption in 2011 -- including one that said he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was elected president.
Blagojevich began serving his sentence in 2012 and spent almost eight years at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colo. He arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Tuesday night amid a crowd of supporters and news media.
Blagojevich has never conceded wrongdoing, and didn't apologize after his release, either.
"I didn't do the things they said I did," he told WGN-TV at the airport.
The 63-year-old former congressman was one of several convicts who received relief from Trump on Tuesday. Former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik each received a presidential pardon. Trump said as far back as May 2018 that he was considering relief for Blagojevich.
Blagojevich was Illinois governor for six years before he was impeached for corruption and removed from office in 2009. He was found guilty of using his influence to shake down campaign money and curry political favors in exchange for naming the successor to Obama's seat. He had also once appeared as a contestant on Trump's reality television show Celebrity Apprentice.
Trump called Blagojevich's sentence "ridiculous" and repeated a claim that former FBI Director James Comey -- accused by the president of being part of a "deep state" conspiracy -- was involved in his prosecution.
Wife Patti Blagojevich said the couple will stage a "homecoming press conference" at their Chicago home Wednesday.