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Last Stand For Blagojevich as Court Prepares to Hand Down Prison Sentence

UPDATE from FOX News producer Marla Cichowski in the courtroom:

At Tuesday's sentencing hearing for Rod Blagojevich, more than 100 people and media waited in line for a seat inside the courtroom and a chance to hear the former Illinois governor speak. 

But Blagojevich wasn't the only person in court attracting attention from the media.

Sister Susanne Kullowitch, a nun with the Sisters of Catholic Charity in Chicago, showed up to see Blagojevich and listen to a portion of the hearing. Kullowitch says she's been praying for Blagojevich since his retrial began earlier this year and even sat through several days of his retrial where she met Blagojevich's wife, Patti.

Kullowitch said she's "grateful for what Blagojevich did for seniors" while he was Illinois governor, providing free rides on mass transit. She also said she believes the punishment Blagojevich faces for his conviction is "too harsh and severe." 

Prosecutors want Blagojevich to serve 15 to 20 years.  Kullowitch said Blagojevich has suffered enough through public humiliation and feels he should get probation instead of serving time behind bars.

When Kullowitch saw Rod Blagojevich in court today, she says he told her to continue praying for him.  

Earlier story:

CHICAGO -- The hair jokes, the phone taps, the slick suits, the shouting attorneys and babbling defendant -- all of it is coming to an end soon as the circus fsurrounding convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich packs up its tent.

Blagojevich and his team will be back in the Dirksen Federal Building on Tuesday for a pre-sentencing hearing. Judge James Zagel has indicated that he will consider arguments on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, deliver the sentence that threatens to keep Blago off reality TV for at least 10 years.

The 10-year figure is a reasonable calculation because Blagojevich’s former fundraiser, Tony Rezko, was recently slapped with a 10-and-half-year prison term. 

“Certainly Blagojevich has a broader scheme, had more responsibility than Rezko. So, logically it is hard to see how Blagojevich should not get a larger sentence,” said former federal prosecutor Jeffery Cramer.

A number of factors can influence Zagel’s decision. The fact that Blagojevich never uttered a word of contrition, in the volumes of everything he said, can work against him.

The fact that Blagojevich was not intimidated by the six-and-a-half-year sentence his predecessor, former Gov. George Ryan, is currently serving works against him.

Of course, working in his favor are executive accomplishments that helped the residents of his state.

Law Professor Len Cavise from DePaul University in Chicago said Blagojevich can also buy some leniency by arguing that he’s a bumbling fool with a big mouth.

“He talked a lot about influence-peddling and stuff like that but most of the people ignored him. They didn’t do anything. This guy got no personal gain out of what he did. He just had the misfortune of opening his mouth when the tapes were running, over and over again,” Cavise said.

Blagojevich’s team has indicated that the former governor very well could be back on the stand one more time. The judge has indicated Blagojevich's attorneys can no longer present tapes but Team Blago is still pushing for them. 

"I don’t think a judge is really going to consider those tapes," Cramer said.  "They all seem to go to the same thing, the argument that the Blagojevich is innocent -- and that train has left the station."

It is highly unlikely that the former governor will be seen shackled and hauled from the courtroom to begin his sentence. Blagojevich does not appear to have any means or desire to flee nor does he have anywhere to go.

Every indication is that Zagel will give him time -- probably the holidays -- to get his affairs in order. 

"It may be a few weeks. After the holidays he’ll get a surrender date. Bureau of {risons will tell him where to report. And that’s where he will show up," Cramer said.

Michael Tobin joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Chicago-based correspondent.

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