CHICAGO (AP) – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The 63-year-old Democrat is expected to walk out of prison later Tuesday.
Trump told reporters the sentence was “ridiculous.” The former governor was convicted of political corruption in 2010, just months after appearing on Trump’s reality TV show, “Celebrity Apprentice.”
He was convicted on charges including seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat and trying to shakedown a children’s hospital.
In addition to Blagojevich, Trump notably pardoned former New York Police Department commissioner Bernie Kerik, who served three years for tax fraud, and financier Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty for violating U.S. securities laws, and Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in a gambling fraud scandal.
Trump also pardoned, among others, a technology entrepreneur who accessed a computer without authorization, a construction company owner who underpaid his taxes; and an author who served a six-month home sentence for her role in a stolen vehicle ring.
The former prosecutors in the Blagojevich case released a press statement Tuesday, reminding the public that in addition to extorting the CEO of a children’s hospital by withholding important state funding to help sick children until the CEO provided campaign contributions, the former Illinois governor was convicted of extorting the owners of a racetrack by intentionally holding up the signing of important state legislation until the owners provided campaign contributions in response to an explicit demand for them, extortionately demanding funding for a high-paying private-sector job, as well as campaign contributions, in exchange for naming a replacement to an open U.S. Senate seat, and lying to the FBI to cover up his criminal activity.