John Harris, Rod Blagojevich's former chief of staff, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 days in prison for his role in the former governor's bid to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacate by President Obama's election. The sentence is possibly the shortest prison term ever imposed in a Chicago public corruption case, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Harris, who served as Blagojevich's chief of staff for three years, was arrested at the same time as Blagojevich in 2008. While the disgraced former governor received a 14-year sentence, Harris escaped with a proverbial slap on the wrist.
The relatively light sentence is largely due to the extensive assistance he provided investigators. Harris, whom Blagojevich began referring to as the "Prince of Darkness," was arguably the government's most important witness, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton.
Harris pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to solicit funds in connection with the sale of the Senate seat. In turn, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than 3 years.
Under Illinois law, a person commits conspiracy when he agrees with another over the commission of a crime, with the intent that the crime actually be committed. Harris didn't contest the fact that he was complicit in Blago's plan to sell the Senate seat. During his trial, he expressed regret over his failure to stand in the former governor's way.
"I should not have helped the governor," Harris said. "... I lost my way."
Since his arrest, John Harris has surrendered his law license and has been working for an electrical contractor. It is likely that he will serve his week-and-a-half sentence at either Metropolitan Correctional Center or the federal prison camp in Oxford, Wisconsin.
- Find a Chicago Criminal Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Ex-Blagojevich Aide Gets 10 Days in Prison (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Rod Blagojevich Sentencing: Disgraced Gov. Gets 14 Years (FindLaw's Chicago Criminal Law Blog)