College friend 'Lonster' testifies in Blagojevich trial

May 17, 2011 3:46:54 PM PDT
One of Rod Blagojevich's college friends took the stand Tuesday in the former governor's corruption retrial.

Lon Monk, whom Blagojevich called "Lonster" on a tape recorded by FBI wiretaps, was the former governor's chief of staff, college friend and campaign manager. The two went to law school together and Monk stood up at Blagojevich's wedding.

Monk also testified in the former governor's first trial. Last year, Blagojevich was found guilty on only one of 24 counts. The jury was hung on 23 others.

In this scaled down retrial, Blagojevich faces 20 counts. He has pleaded guilty to all of them.

Monk's testimony is also stripped down - from four days to one and a half - but it remains a key part of the government's contention that Blagojevich purposely tried to leverage a tollway expansion plan and racetrack legislation for campaign contributions.

Prosecutors played a secretly-recorded conversation between Blagojevich and Monk from December 2008.

MONK: He's gonna sign the bill and all of a sudden you're going to give a contribution. Yeah, I don't wanna say that.

BLAGOJEVICH: Right.

MONK: 'Cause then he's gonna say you're right, you know we can't do it right now.

BLAGOJEVICH: Right.

MONK: So, I wanna say...

BLAGOJEVICH: You could say he could sign the bill right after the first of the year. I think you just say that. He's gonna sign all his bills, he's signing all, he's doing all his bills right...

MONK; No. Look, I wanna go to him without crossing the line and say, give us the f---in' money.

BLAGOJEVICH: Right.

MONK: (UI), give us the money and one has nothing to do with the other...

BLAGOJEVICH: Right.

MONK: ...but give us the f---in' money. Because they're losin', they're losing 9,000 a day.

BLAGOJEVICH; Okay.

MONK: For every day it's not signed.

The conversation continues:

BLAGOJEVICH: Okay. So you go see him?

MONK: Yeah, I'm gonna call him (UI).

BLAGOJEVICH: What are you gonna say to him? Be careful.

MONK: I'm gonna say, I'm gonna say to him, stop screwin' around, get me the money (UI), the concern is, is that, um, he, you know, holding back and want to group all these bills together, but what's affecting him is that he feels like you're gonna get skittish if he signs the bill, get me?. I'm going to use the word skittish.

BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah.

MONK: Assumes, you know, at some point (UI).

BLAGOJEVICH: (UI). And he'd like some separation between that and signing the bill.

MONK: Define separation.

BLAGOJEVICH: A week.

Monk said Tuesday that Blagojevich and his campaign team -- Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly-- plotted ways to use their state clout to make money. Monk admits to taking more than $70,000 in cash payments from Rezko.

During the cross-examination, Blagojevich's defense argued that the government's case made political horse trading a crime. They're telling jurors that those who have alleged shakedowns for state contracts -- racetrack owner, the road builder and the hospital administrator -- through testimony knew how political fundraising works and that Blagojevich never explicitly linked government action to personal gain.


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