Ex-chief of staff: Blago inner circle knew

June 9, 2010 4:45:25 PM PDT
The former chief of staff for Rod Blagojevich said Wednesday he and other top aides met with the former governor to discuss how they could make money from state actions.

Alonzo "Lon" Monk, who was Blagojevich's roommate at Pepperdine and an usher at his wedding, said he and fundraisers-- including Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly, who killed himself last year-- met with Blagojevich about how to make money off of Blagojevich's position of power. The men referred to themselves by number, he said, '1, 2, 3, 4.' He said on one Rezko, who led the meeting, had listed 8 or 9 ideas on a blackboard during a meeting, including a plan to create or purchase an insurance company that would do business with the state. The plan was to split the money evenly when Blagojevich was out of office, he said. When asked by U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner why they would wait, Monk said "We didn't want anybody to know what was going on...in all likelihood it was wrong and breaking the law."

Monk's testimony opens up the door for the defense to call on Rahm Emanual, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, to testify. Monk said on the stand Wednesday that Emanual, who was a congressman at the time, wanted grant money for a school in his district and Blagojevich held up approval for the money until Emanual's brother agreed to hold a fundraiser.

Monk pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a bribe. In exchange for his testimony, he'll get a reduced prison term of two years.

Monk said he was approached by the FBI to cooperate in the investigation in 2007 but he said no. When he was approached again in February 2009 he decided to talk because "he felt like there was a higher likelihood of him being convicted of a crime."

The court authorized selected exhibits admitted into evidence Wednesday to be released.

Agent: Blago ally came to FBI with allegations

His testimony followed that of FBI agent Daniel Cain, who confirmed for the first time that John Wyma, one of Rod Blagojevich's closest allies, first came to the FBI to discuss alleged corruption.

Cain, who was the first to testify in the corruption trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, led the federal investigation into Blagojevich's alleged wrongdoing. He told the jury he has been involved in the case from the beginning in December 2003. That's when he said Wyma came to the FBI to discuss alleged corruption on two state boards. When asked to wear a wire, Wyma refused.

During his testimony, Cain explained the process of getting a wiretap and said from October 9, 2008, Blagojevich's cell phone, home phone and two of the 10 phone lines at the Friends of Blagojevich office were tapped. The FBI investigation led to the conviction of Tony Rezko, one of Blagojevich's key fundraisers.

Cain then discussed his role in recording conversations between Rod Blagojevich and his inner circle and the fundraising analysis done by the FBI.

During cross examination, defense attorney Aaron Goldstein asked, "Did one penny (of the money in the Friends of Blagojevich fund) go to Rod Blagojevich?" Cain said he didn't know.

Goldstein also continually asked Cain why certain calls were not recorded, especially ones between Blagojevich and Bill Quinlan, the then governor's chief counsel.

During Tuesday's opening statements, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. said Blagojevich "had bad judgment" when it came to trust, talking about Rezko and Monk.

Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to scheming to profit illegally from his power to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama and squeeze people for campaign contributions.

Blagojevich, who spoke to reporters outside the courthouse Wednesday morning, said, "My lawyer yesterday asked the jury to follow the money. I ask you, men and women of the press, follow the money. You will see that I never took a dime. I never took a nickel. I didn't take a penny. I wasn't entitled to. I first had a job shining shoes. From the first tip I made. I earned every dollar I every made. You will see when you follow the money that I am an honest man," said Blagojevich.


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