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Blagojevich begins serving 14-year term

Former governor Rod Blagojevich arrived early Thursday afternoon at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood to begin serving a 14-year prison sentence.

With two of his lawyers beside him, Blagojevich arrived at the entrance to the low-security federal prison near Littleton, Colo., at about 12:50 p.m. Chicago time.

Blagojevich left his Ravenswood Manor house around 6 a.m. Thursday morning in route to O'Hare. He struggled to walk to a waiting car, while being surrounded by the media swarm.

He appeared annoyed as one reporter kept asking him, "What did you tell your daughters?" Blagojevich's response was: "What did you say to yours this morning?"

"Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I'm leaving with a heavy heart and a clear conscience. But I have high hopes for the future," Blagojevich continued. "I'll see you guys when I see ya."

The 55-year-old married father of two then sat in the back seat of a car that took him to O'Hare Airport.

When he arrived at the terminal, he was approached by dozens of people who wanted his autograph or a picture.That continued after Blagojevich made his way through airport security.

WGN-TV's Tom Negovan caught up with Blagojevich shortly before he boarded his flight:

"Life is hard. Life is tough. Life is often times very unfair. Disasters strike. And the test of who you are is how you to stand up to things. For me, standing strong and fighting through this, not losing faith, not despairing, not giving up, still believing that the truth will prevail, is the best thing I can do for my two daughters, as they have to fight through this too. And we have the truth on our side, and God has a purpose for all of us, and I believe at the end of the day, there's a reason for this and we're going to work through this and I have to do everything I can to stay strong for my children and for (wife) Patti," Blagojevich told Negovan.

Blagojevich landed at Denver International Airport around 10 a.m. Chicago time. He had approached the prison earlier, but then headed to a lunch spot for a final meal before he surrendered. He ordered a double patty melt, fries and a soda but didn’t finish the meal, according to Josh Andreakos, general manager of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.

Blagojevich had to report to the prison by 2 p.m. He will undergo a full-body strip search and hand over his personal belongings, save for his wedding ring. The man with a taste for fine Oxford-label suits will be given khaki prison garb and boots.

The former governor was sentenced on 18 corruption-related counts, including charges that he tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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