Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signs autographs after arriving at O'Hare International Airport following his release from prison on February 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
CNN  — 

Here is a look at the life of Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois who served eight years in federal prison.


Birth date: December 10, 1956

Birth place: Chicago, Illinois

Birth name: Rod Blagojevich (has no middle name, uses the initial R to honor his father)

Father: Rade Blagojevich, steelworker

Mother: Millie (Govedarica) Blagojevich

Marriage: Patricia (Mell) Blagojevich (1990-present)

Children: Anne and Amy

Education: Northwestern University, B.A., 1979; Pepperdine University, J.D., 1983

Other Facts

Last name is pronounced Bluh-GOY-uh-vitch.

His father was a prisoner of war for four years in a Nazi camp during World War II.


1986-1988 - Assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, Illinois.

1992-1996 - Serves in the Illinois House, representing the 33rd District.

1996-2002 - US Representative from Illinois’s 5th District.

November 2002 - Becomes the first Democrat elected governor of Illinois in 30 years.

January 13, 2003 - Is sworn in as the 40th governor of Illinois.

January 8, 2007 - Is sworn in for a second term as governor of Illinois.

December 9, 2008 - Is taken into federal custody on corruption charges. He is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, are accused of “conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits” by leveraging his authority to appoint a US senator to replace President-elect Barack Obama.

December 30, 2008 - Blagojevich appoints former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama.

January 9, 2009 - The Illinois House of Representatives votes to impeach Blagojevich. The vote is 114-1.

January 26, 2009 - Impeachment hearings begin in the Illinois Senate. Blagojevich does not attend, choosing instead to appear on “Larry King Live,” “The View,” and “Good Morning America.”

January 29, 2009 - The Illinois Senate votes unanimously to remove Blagojevich and to bar him from holding political office in Illinois again.

April 2, 2009 - Indicted on 16 felony counts by a federal grand jury.

April 14, 2009 - Blagojevich pleads not guilty.

June 13, 2009 - Appears in a Chicago comedy show “Rod Blagojevich Superstar.”

September 8, 2009 - Blagojevich’s autobiography, “The Governor” is published.

2010 - Appears as a contestant on four episodes of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality TV show.

June 3, 2010 - Blagojevich’s trial on corruption charges begins.

August 17, 2010 - The jury in Blagojevich’s trial returns its verdict after deliberating for 14 days. He is found guilty of making false statements to federal investigators. The jury is unable to come to a decision on 23 other counts.

February 24, 2011 - A federal judge drops three of 23 corruption charges against Blagojevich.

May 2, 2011 - Blagojevich’s retrial begins.

June 27, 2011 - The jury comes back with 17 guilty verdicts, one not guilty and two counts deadlocked.

July 25, 2011 - Blagojevich files a 158-page motion requesting an acquittal or a new trial, citing fundamentally unfair proceedings.

December 7, 2011 - Sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.

March 15, 2012 - Reports to Englewood Federal Correctional Institution in Colorado to begin serving a 14-year sentence.

July 15, 2013 - Blagojevich’s lawyers appeal his conviction to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming the trial judge failed to explain to jurors that “political deal-making” can be legal and “misled the jury by failing to explain the legal distinction between campaign contributions and bribes.”

July 21, 2015 - The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturns five counts against Blagojevich, saying the prosecutors did not prove that he broke the law when trying to sell Obama’s old Senate seat.

August 19, 2015 - The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals denies Blagojevich a rehearing. Blagojevich will now ask the US Supreme Court to overturn his remaining convictions and sentence.

March 30, 2016 - Two days after the Supreme Court declines to hear Blagojevich’s appeal, federal prosecutors file a motion asking a US District Judge to schedule a resentencing date for the former governor. Prosecutors will not retry Blagojevich on the five charges that were overturned by the appeals court.

August 9, 2016 - US District Judge James Zagel imposes the same 14-year sentence against Blagojevich, despite pleas for a reduced term.

September 11, 2017 - Blagojevich’s first interview since he was sent to prison is published in Chicago magazine.

November 3, 2017 - Blagojevich submits a second request to overturn his conviction and sentencing to the US Supreme Court. This comes after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his request for a rehearing earlier this year.

June 5, 2018 - Files the clemency paperwork, officially asking President Donald Trump to commute his prison sentence. The move comes days after Trump told reporters he was considering commuting Blagojevich’s sentence.

July 12, 2019 - Rev. Jesse Jackson signs a letter encouraging Trump to grant a full pardon to Blagojevich.

August 7, 2019 - Trump tells reporters he wants to commute Blagojevich’s sentence because the former governor was “treated unbelievably unfairly.” The next day Trump tweets that White House staff is continuing to review “the possibility of commuting” Blagojevich’s sentence.

February 18, 2020 - Trump announces he has commuted Blagojevich’s prison sentence, and Blagojevich is released after serving eight years of a 14-year sentence.

May 14, 2020 - Blagojevich’s podcast “Lightning Rod” debuts.

May 18, 2020 - Is disbarred by the Illinois Supreme Court.

November 5, 2021 - “Being Blago,” a four-part docuseries, is released on Hulu.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat who served eight years of a 14-year prison sentence for a host of public corruption charges, thanked President Donald Trump for commuting his sentence in press conference after his release
Blagojevich: Trump didn't have to do this
00:30 - Source: CNN