CHICAGO (RNN) - Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich left his family home Thursday morning to head to Colorado, where he will serve a 14-year sentence in federal prison.
As he stepped outside of his house shortly after 6 a.m. CT, the former governor, clad in a dark blazer, black polo and light jeans, pushed his way through a crowded press corps.
Blagojevich paused to make one last statement before a car drove him away to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
"I'm leaving with a heavy heart, a clear conscience," he said. "But I have high, high hopes for the future."
Among the hopes, the politician said, was that the assembled media would leave and allow his neighbors to reclaim their neighborhood.
Patti Blagojevich, the former governor's wife, and the couple's two daughters were notably absent from the frenzied scene.
"Saying goodbye is the hardest thing I've ever had to do," the convicted governor said.
At his terminal at O'Hare, a wave of supporters lined up to shake the troubled politician's hand.
Blagojevich was convicted in June of 17 corruption-related charges. Arguably the most-publicized charge was a conviction for attempting to sell or trade President Barack Obama's U.S. senate seat. He has maintained his innocence.
The former governor spoke to reporters Wednesday, saying he believed he always thought about what was right for his constituents.
"I am proud as I leave and enter the next part of a what is a dark and hard journey that I can take with me the sense of accomplishment and a real belief that the things I did as governor and the things I did as congressman actually helped real, ordinary people," he said.
According to the Associated Press, Blagojevich will be admitted to prison Thursday, where he will become inmate No. 40892-424. He will trade in his clothing for a prison uniform, keeping solely his wedding ring.
Blagojevich was the first Democratic governor elected in 30 years. His predecessor, former Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, is also serving a federal corruption sentence.
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