Tag Archives: Blagojevich retrial

Blagojevich retrial, Rezko Levine et al waiting sentencing, Citizen Wells open thread, August 23, 2010

Blagojevich retrial, Rezko Levine et al waiting sentencing

From the Chicago tribune, a list of Blagojevich trial potential witnesses waiting on sentencing.

“–Antoin “Tony” Rezko: Former fundraiser for Blagojevich and Barack Obama and key adviser to Blagojevich, convicted in June 2008 of fraud, money laundering and bribery for scheming to make millions of dollars by squeezing campaign contributions or kickbacks from firms seeking business with the Teachers Retirement System and Health Facilities Planning Board. On the witness list for Blagojevich’s trial, but did not testify, and is awaiting sentencing. Still faces charges of fraudulently obtaining a $10.5 million business loan.

–Stuart Levine: Millionaire attorney and longtime Republican donor. Pleaded guilty in October 2006 to fraud and money laundering in the Rezko schemes and was the government’s top witness against Rezko. Member of both the TRS and health planning boards, reappointed by Blagojevich to both. Testified that Blagojevich told him, “Stick with us and you will do very well for yourself.” Awaiting sentencing. Faced life in prison but could get 5 1/2 years for cooperating.

–William Cellini: Longtime Republican fundraiser in Springfield who did business with TRS. Was indicted with Blagojevich on charges of fraud and extortion conspiracy and attempted extortion in connection with a plan to block a Hollywood producer’s real estate investment company from getting $220 million in teachers pension money to invest unless the producer contributed to Blagojevich. Pleaded not guilty in November 2008, got his case separated from Blagojevich’s last fall and has not had a trial date set.

–Alonzo “Lon” Monk: Blagojevich’s law school roommate, gave up a career as a sports agent to join Blagojevich and was the governor’s first chief of staff and campaign manager. Pleaded guilty in October 2009 to one count of wire fraud for attempting to squeeze a racetrack owner for a $100,000 campaign contribution. Testified at Blagojevich’s trial that the two of them, Kelly and Rezko discussed ways to make money through state government connections. Has yet to be sentenced. He faced 37 to 46 months in prison but could get 24 months because he cooperated.

–John Harris: Blagojevich’s chief of staff from late 2005 until his arrest in December 2008, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Testified that Blagojevich sent word to the Obama administration that he would appoint one of the president-elect’s close friends to Obama’s vacated Senate seat if Blagojevich got a cabinet post in Washington. Has yet to be sentenced, but prosecutors have promised to urge a maximum 35-month term.

–Ali Ata: Rezko associate who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about Rezko’s role in getting him his job as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority. Testified he was at a meeting in 2003 when Ata gave Rezko a $25,000 contribution for Blagojevich and the governor asked Rezko whether he’d spoken to Ata about a state job. He gave another $25,000 the following summer and Blagojevich told him the job he got should allow him to “make some money.” Awaiting sentencing. Faced 18 months in prison, but cooperation could mean even less than the 12-month minimum.

–Joseph Cari: Former Democratic National Committee finance chairman. Pleaded guilty in September 2005 to attempted extortion after telling a company seeking TRS business it had to send $750,000 to a consultant of his choice. Testified that Rezko and Kelly tried to recruit him to raise money for a Blagojevich presidential run and that the ex-governor told him governors are in a better position than senators to seek the presidency because they can hand out legal work and other contracts to contributors.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-il-blagojevichscorec,0,4123288.story

Blagojevich retrial, Rezko and Levine must be witnesses, Leonard Cavise, DePaul University law professor, Evidentiary Proffer

Blagojevich retrial, Rezko and Levine must be witnesses, Leonard Cavise, DePaul University law professor, Evidentiary Proffer

It was clear to experts and novices alike that Tony Rezko and/or Stuart Levine had to be called as witnesses in the Rod Blagojevich trial. Tony Rezko’s name was mentioned approx. 288 times in the Evidentiary Proffer. When Judge James Zagel stated that Rezko was a bad witness, our collective jaws dropped. Stuart Levine, the key witness in the Rezko trial was not only enmeshed in corruption, he was a long time drug user.

From Citizen Wells July 29, 2010

“If I were a Blago juror …”

“If I were a juror, I’d wonder why we never heard from so many of the allegedly bad guys — Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine — mentioned by the prosecution.”
“As noted in part 5 of this series, Tony Rezko’s name was mentioned approximately 288 times in the Evidentiary Proffer. The above numbers reveal that of the evidence presented in the Proffer, 38 pages are loaded with names and corruption activities tied to Blagojevich from 2002 to mid 2008. And yet neither Tony Rezko or Stuart Levine were called as witnesses. And just as predicted and warned about here, the focus of the trial was the selling of Obama’s senate seat.”

Read more

An expert on law has commented on Rezko and Levine being called as witnesses. Leonard Cavise is a DePaul University law professor. From the DePaul website.

“Biography

Professor Cavise has a long background in litigation , both criminal and civil, including substantial pro bono litigation. In addition, he has worked in international human rights for many years, including lectures and training sessions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Venzuela, Italy, France and other locations throughout the world. Several projects were designed to train Latin American human rights lawyers in the art of trial advocacy. In 1999, he founded the Chiapas Human Rights Practicum and has taken law students to work in human rights offices in Chiapas every year since then. He was the Director of DePaul’s Lawyering Skills Program from 1983 until 1990.”

http://www.law.depaul.edu/faculty_staff/faculty_information.asp?id=10

From the Chicago tribune, Cavise’s comments.

“A day later, all that was clear was that Blagojevich would have another day in court. What was less certain was what changes could be made to the prosecution case next time around, who would represent the governor at his retrial and how that defense would be paid for.

Experts differed on what the government might do as it makes another attempt at proving Blagojevich tried to leverage the powers of his office — including the appointment of a U.S. senator to fill the seat once held by President Barack Obama — to enrich himself and his campaign fund.
Some predicted that prosecutors would just slightly adjust their case or possibly leave it the same, while others suggested the next go-round could be much more drawn out.

Former federal prosecutor Dean Polales said he thinks the pr
osecution’s case will only be tweaked, especially since jurors reported an 11-1 split in favor of conviction on many of the major counts in the indictment.
“You’ve got an outlier juror,” Polales said. “That’s hard (for the defense) to duplicate in a future trial.”

But Leonard Cavise, a DePaul University professor, suggested the government will need to do more at the retrial, possibly leading to a longer presentation of evidence. He said he believes the government may try to avoid another deadlocked jury by using fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko and political fixer Stuart Levine as witnesses.

Both men have agreed to cooperate, but prosecutors chose not to call them this summer in part because of the baggage both bring.
“If the prosecution insists on going forward, I have two words for them: Rezko and Levine,” Cavise said. “They know where all the bodies are buried.””

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/blagojevich/ct-met-blagojevich-retrial-20100818,0,2911219.story

Blagojevich retrial, Protecting Obama, Patrick Fitzgerald conspirator?, Fitzgerald and Justice Dept delayed arrest of Blagojevich

Blagojevich retrial, Protecting Obama, Patrick Fitzgerald conspirator?, Fitzgerald and Justice Dept delayed arrest of Blagojevich

Patrick Fitzgerald has zero credibility with me. However, with rats jumping ship left and right, will Fitzgerald throw Obama under the bus?

From the Chicago Tribune.
“Moments after a rare setback, a chastened U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was acting nothing like the swaggering prosecutor who just 20 months earlier proclaimed he had arrested a sitting governor to stop a political crime spree.

He would not take questions from reporters about his office’s failure to convict former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 23 counts against him, winning a guilty verdict only on a single count of lying to the FBI,  among the least serious of the charges he faced.

Instead, Fitzgerald vowed to retry the case, then quickly ending his news conference.

“So, for all practical purposes, we are in the mode of being close to jury selection for a retrial,” he said.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/08/defense-jubilant-prosecutors-look-to-retrial.html

From the Chicago Tribune.

“The counts on which the jury could not agree framed the heart of the government claims that Blagojevich schemed to profit from his post from his earliest days in office and in the 2008 attempted to auction off the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.”

“Lawyers in the case are to be back in court Aug. 26, possibly to pick a retrial date. Prosecutors are expected to push for the case to be back before a jury this fall, while the defense is likely to drag its heels and promised to appeal the single count the former governor was convicted on.
While gaining a conviction of the former governor on one count, the result of the trial was a far cry from the sweeping convictions in public corruption cases that Fitzgerald and his prosecutors have grown accustomed to. In his nine years at the helm of the prosecutor’s office here, Fitzgerald has secured guilty verdicts for an array of public officials, ranging from aldermen to the patronage chief for Mayor Richard Daley to Blagojevich’s predecessor as governor, Republican George Ryan.
The government case against Blagojevich was a vivid example of how slowly the wheels of justice can grind in public corruption cases. Blagojevich was arrested just weeks after he allegedly began plotting to sell Obama’s Senate seat, but federal agents had been probing wrongdoing in the governor’s administration since at least 2004 — his second year in office — and questioned Blagojevich for the first time in 2005 during his first term.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/08/blagojevich-convicted-on-1-of-24-counts.html

Thanks to the Tribune for pointing out that Blagojevich was under scrutiny at least by 2004.

Now for the rest of the story.

From Citizen Wells July 15, 2010
“The question is, why did Patrick Fitzgerald and the US Justice Department wait until December 2008 to arrest Rod Blagojevich?”

“The US Justice Department had plenty of evidence indicting Rod Blagojevich by 2006. Why did the US Justice Department wait until December 2008, after the election, to arrest Blagojevich?”

“From in or about 2002 to the present, in Cook County”

“Since approximately 2003, the government has been investigating allegations of illegal activity occurring in State of Illinois government as part of the administration of Governor ROD BLAGOJEVICH.”

“Timeline is revealing

Patrick Fitzgerald was aware of Blagojevich’s corruption in 2003

“Pamela Meyer Davis had been trying to win approval from a state health planning board for an expansion of Edward Hospital, the facility she runs in a Chicago suburb, but she realized that the only way to prevail was to retain a politically connected construction company and a specific investment house.

Instead of succumbing to those demands, she went to the FBI and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald in late 2003 and agreed to secretly record conversations about the project.””

Patrick Fitzgerald and US Justice Dept. delayed Blagojevich arrest