CHICAGO – A former chief of staff to Rod Blagojevich who provided crucial assistance to investigators was sentenced Wednesday to 10 days in prison by a federal judge who reserved his harshest comments instead for the former governor, suggesting he was an impossible boss and pointing out some had even questioned his mental stability.
The sentence for John Harris was in stunning contrast to the crushing 14-year term Blagojevich began serving earlier this month in a federal prison in Colorado. In fact, Blagojevich has already spent more time in prison than Harris will.
During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James Zagel asked Harris about what it was like to work for Blagojevich, quoting from letters sent to the court about how unreasonable Blagojevich was and making references from the trials to suggestions of “some level of mental instability” on Blagojevich’s part.
Zagel went on to express sympathy for Harris and the “dilemma” he faced with a boss who wouldn’t be dissuaded from the plots and schemes to corruptly trade on his office and influence for his own financial benefit.
But in the end, Zagel concluded that Harris shouldn’t avoid prison time entirely.
“You were much too close to power and you had an ability either to stop some of the things (or) report what was going on,” the judge said.