Blagojevich trial prosecution opening statements, Prosecution witnesses, Patrick Fitzgerald
The prosecution side of the Blagojevich trial presented opening statements. I was pleased to see references to the earlier corruption that Blagojevich was involved in, not just the selling of the senate seat.
From the Chicago Tribune June 8, 2010.
“Hamilton ticked off a list of some of the witnesses who will testify against Blagojevich, including former chiefs of staff Lon Monk and John Harris. She did not mention fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who has been cooperating with government agents since his 2008 conviction.
Hamilton also stressed how jurors will get to hear the alleged corruption unfold for themselves on government wiretaps, including the now infamous phrase where Blagojevich describes his power to appoint a successor as senator to President Obama as “(expletive) golden.” As she spoke, those words, in their entirety, were flashed on the screen.
“He corrupted the office of the governor of the state of Illinois for his own personal benefit,” she concluded. “When you hear him say this senate seat is golden and he’s not giving it up for nothing, you are going to know, that’s how he viewed his power.”
Earlier today, Hamilton began her opening statement with the most emotionally packed of the charges against Blagojevich: the government claim that he tried to shake down the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital.
“On the North Side of Chicago,” she began, “there is a hospital called Children’s Memorial Hospital. It is a non-profit hospital that treats kids no matter where they are from or ability to pay…”
Hamilton then explained how Blagojevich committed to helping the hospital with millions of dollars in increased reimbursements to help pay its doctors. “But there was a catch,” she said. “Now that he decided to help the hospital, he wanted the hospital to pay him.”
Blagojevich is charged with demanding tens of thousands of dollars in fundraising help from the CEO of the hospital before he would release the increased reimbursements.
That was just one of a series of illegal shakedowns that started shortly after Blagojevich became governor in 2003 and extended into 2008, the prosecutor alleged.
“He was trying to use his power as governor to get something of personal benefit for himself,” she said.
Time and again, she continued, “when he was supposed to be asking ‘what about the people of the state of Illinois?’ he was asking, ‘what about me?’”
As Hamilton spoke, a chart was projected on a screen in the courtroom with a picture of fundraisers Antoin “Tony” Rezko, Christopher Kelly and Alonzo “Lon” Monk, Blagojevich’s college roommate and later chief of staff who has pleaded guilty in the case and is expected to testify for prosecutors.
On the other end of the hall from the 25th-floor courtroom where the case is being heard, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald sat in a different “overflow” courtroom listening to Hamilton’s presentation on an audio hookup. He stared at the ceiling as Hamilton launched into a long laundry list of Blagojevich’s alleged misdeeds.
Proceeding in largely chronological fashion, Hamilton told jurors how Blagojevich, Rezko, Monk and others allegedly schemed to take kickbacks from investment firms seeking state business and squeeze mountains of campaign cash out of contributors in exchange for state action.
Some of the alleged kickbacks to Blagojevich, she said, were funneled to him in the form of $12,000 monthly payments from Rezko through his real estate company to Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, who did no work to earn the money. Patti Blagojevich has not been charged in the case.
Hamilton said the Rezko payments to Patti Blagojevich abruptly ended in May 2004 when another conspirator in the case, political fixer Stuart Levine, was confronted by the FBI.”