Blago judge: Gag order is last resort

In this April 21, 2009 file photo, ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is seen leaving federal court in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
June 17, 2010 4:30:58 AM PDT
Judge James Zagel stopped short of placing a gag order on those involved in the corruption trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich.

Listen to the tapes or read the transcripts entered into evidence- as they become available- by clicking here. (NOTE: You must open the PDF file of the transcript to find the audio file. The recordings contain some obscenities.)

The judge said he wants the lawyers in the case to come up with what can and can't be said outside of court. Judge Zagel said a gag order would be the last resort, but he is concerned with Blagojevich's comments.

The motion, filed by the prosecution on Wednesday, will be addressed again next Monday. Until then, the judge recommended everyone "exercise some discretion."

In the motion, the prosecution cites comments Blagojevich made Tuesday outside the courthouse after his former top aide and longtime friend, Alonzo "Lon" Monk testified. Blagojevich told reporters he Monk lied on the stand. Read the Brief (PDF)

Prosecutors said Blagojevich is using his comments to manipulate the media to a point where the court should intervene. The motions asks Judge James Zagel to prohibit all those involved in the case- and their counsel- from expressing opinions in public through the remainder of the trial.

Meanwhile, witness testimony continued Wednesday. A business associate of Tony Rezko was the first to take the stand Wednesday in the corruption trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

"I was uncomfortable with the whole situation, I thought it was wrong," Joseph Aramanda said on the stand. Aramanda, who is in his second day of testimony, said he told Rezko he didn't want to be involved in sharing consulting fees with Blagojevich, Rezko, Lon Monk, and Chris Kelly.

Prosecutors are trying to tie a trail of money to Blagojevich.

During cross examination, Aramanda said he didn't know a $600,000 loan he took was actually a kickback payment for Tony Rezko. He also said he never transferred money into a Blagojevich account.

" ," said Aramanda after he was finished giving testimony.

Aramanda was followed by Shari Schindler, a revenue agent with the IRS. She is a forensic accountant who is an expert at sifting through financial documents and turning them into charts for juries to read.

Schindler explained the money trail from the $10 billion POB sale all of the way down to Chris Kelly. She also addressed Lon Monk's bank accounts, saying there was essentially no money withdrawn from them between September 2004 and February 2007.

Schindler also said in her analysis none of the money went directly to Rod Blagojevich. She also said around the same time Chris Kelly received $200,000 from Rezko Concessions, $12,000 was deposited into Patti Blagojevich's account.

The ousted governor has pleaded not guilty to charges that he schemed to get a hefty campaign contribution or a high-paying job in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after being elected president. He also has pleaded not guilty to plotting to launch a racketeering scheme.

His brother, Robert Blagojevich, 54, of Nashville, Tenn., has pleaded not guilty to taking part in a plot to sell or trade the Senate seat and scheming to pressure the racetrack owner.

If convicted, Blagojevich could face up to $6 million in fines and a sentence of 415 years in prison.


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