By Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune –
CHICAGO — As the door to the visiting room at Federal Correctional Institute-Englewood opened and Rod Blagojevich stepped in, one thing was clear to his awaiting visitors.
Even in dull prison khakis he still has political charisma.
“He is the same person there as he was here,” said Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich’s former attorney who visited him Sunday at his prison near Littleton, Colo. “You know that expression, ‘Does it play in Peoria?’ Well, it certainly plays in Littleton.”
As the toned — and not yet grayed — Blagojevich walked across the roughly 40-by-60 foot room where other inmates visited on rows of plastic chairs with loved ones, he was greeted over and over, Adam said. Blagojevich reported to the prison on March 15.
“He’s like, the man,” Adam said. “When he walked in the inmates kind of broke the rule … (calling) ‘Hey Rod, hey Rod.’ A couple of people called him ‘Gov.’”
Blagojevich stopped briefly to shake hands with family members before he sat with Adam and Adam’s father, Sam Adam Sr., for a roughly 90-minute chat.
The Adams, who are friends with Blagojevich and also represented him during his first public corruption trial, were relieved to find the convicted governor at ease about his adjustment to a prison sentence of 14 years.
“He told a lot of jokes,” said Adam. “He was smiling.”
Adam said Blagojevich is confident he will prevail on appeal — and so he is focused more on getting through the next year and a half, rather than the long haul.
For now, the former governor washes dishes in the prison kitchen — a task that all new inmates are handed, Adam said.
He has requested to teach Shakespeare or Greek mythology and philosophy in the library.
He runs between four and five miles a day and has a slight tan from the sunny Colorado weather. His hair seems mostly intact, Adam said.
“He’s still got a big, a huge head of hair,” he said. “It has turned from black to brown. He is not gray.”
Blagojevich has bonded with his cellmate, Adam said. His celebrity has been acknowledged to some extent, but no one has hassled him, the attorney said.
Blagojevich has received 1,000 letters, Adam said, and so far has had one visit from his wife and two daughters.