Rod Blagojevich, former Illinois Gov., gives last speech before heading to prison


Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich leaves with his wife Patti following a guilty verdict in his corruption retrial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse June 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.


Tasos Katopodis

Rod Blagojevich, the publicity-loving former governor of Illinois, gave his last public speech this afternoon before heading to prison in Colorado to serve a 14-year sentence for corruption, Reuters reported.

In two trials, Blagojevich, 55, was convicted of 18 criminal counts, including an allegation that he conspired to trade President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat in return for political favors and donations, Reuters reported. Blagojevich's predecessor, George Ryan, was also busted for corruption; he’s serving a 6 1/2-year sentence in a Terre Haute, Ind., prison, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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Speaking for 15 minutes in front of his home on Chicago’s north side, Blagojevich said going to jail is the “hardest thing I've ever had to do” but, he told the crowd of about 300, “I'll see you again," the Chicago Tribune reported. He also said his lawyers are appealing the case.

Blagojevich mentioned he had been "reading more things in religion, the Old Testament and the New Testament" for tips on how to handle adversity, the Chicago Tribune reported. "It's a work in progress," he said, explaining that he hopes to "get stronger...learn from this…and serve a higher purpose later on."

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Blagojevich timed his departing statement to begin at precisely 5:02 p.m. so it could appear live on the evening news. His publicist even planned to give a two-minute warning via Twitter so newscasts could be ready.

Blagojevich is due to report to jail tomorrow, according to Reuters.

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