Category Archives: Roland Burris

Blagojevich trial prosecution opening statements, Prosecution witnesses, Patrick Fitzgerald, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Blagojevich Rezko Monk others kickbacks

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.”

Read more:

http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/blagojevich-on-trial/2010/06/lawyers-begin-opening-statements.html

Blagojevich trial, Update, April 22, 2010, Judge James Zagel criticizes Blagojevich, Zagel unhappy with defense team, The only person who can admit evidence is me

Blagojevich trial, Update, April 22, 2010, Judge James Zagel criticizes Blagojevich

From The Christian Science Monitor

“Judge in Rod Blagojevich case takes the former governor to task”

“Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to use a hearing in federal court Wednesday to confront his nemesis in his pending June trial: US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Mr. Blagojevich had angrily described the federal prosecutor as a “liar” late Tuesday, challenging him through local television cameras to “be man enough to be in court” the next day.

Mr. Fitzgerald did not show. But US District Judge James Zagel told Blagojevich and his lawyers that he was unhappy with the combative nature of the defense. His courtroom would not “permit the legal equivalent of head butts,” he said.

“Those rules are enforced by the referee, not by the boxers. I am that referee – no one else,” Judge Zagel said.”

“Zagel criticized the former governor for repeated remarks in the media about prosecutors suppressing wiretaps that Blagojevich says, if aired, would reveal a “smoking gun” pointing at his innocence.”

“Zagel made it clear that it wasn’t up to the prosecution team regarding what would be allowed in the trial. Rather, the admittance of all evidence is under Zagel’s domain. “The only person who can admit evidence is me,” he said.

He gave Blagojevich’s legal team until May 14 to provide a list of all the tapes it wants played at the trial. But he warned that he would monitor whether the requested tapes were relevant to the case so that jurors aren’t “needlessly consumed” by evidence that has no bearing on the trial.”

Read more:

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2010/0421/Judge-in-Rod-Blagojevich-case-takes-the-former-governor-to-task

Blagojevich trial, April 21, 2010, Rod Blagojevich history of corruption, Blagojevich rants and deception, Rezko Levine Obama

Blagojevich trial, April 21, 2010, Rod Blagojevich history of corruption

Lest we forget.

Rod Blagojevich, steeped in many years of corruption and crime with the likes of Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, Barack Obama and many others, would have you believe, with the assistance of the MSM, that he is only caught up in the controversy surrounding the selling of Obama’s seat and that he is not guilty.

From the Chicago Tribune, April 21, 2010.
“Blagojevich calls federal prosecutors ‘cowards and liars’ in angry rant”
 

“Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich described the federal prosecutors who have brought racketeering and fraud charges against him as “cowards and liars” Tuesday and challenged Chicago’s U.S. attorney to meet him face to face in court if he is “man enough.”

In an extraordinary outburst timed to go live on evening news shows, Blagojevich said prosecutors had treated his wife unfairly and were now “sneaking into court” in an effort to prevent jurors from hearing all of the tapes the FBI made of his telephone conversations.

“They are cowards and they are liars,” Blagojevich said, raising his voice to a full throated shout as he stood before a battery of cameras in front of his lawyer’s South Side office.

“They know when all those tapes will be played they will show I’ve done nothing wrong and will prove my innocence,” the impeached former governor said. He and his attorneys left without taking questions.

Addressing U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald through the cameras, Blagojevich said: “I’ll be in court tomorrow and I hope you are man enough to be there, too.”

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, Randall Samborn, had no comment on Blagojevich’s remarks.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to discuss motions being filed as preparations for the trial go into their final six weeks.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-ap-us-blagojevich-corruption-case,0,2581741.story

Nine months before Rod Blagojevich was arrested.

From the Chicago Tribune, March 7, 2008.

“Blagojevich’s name surfaces early in case”

“Prosecutors wasted little time Thursday dragging Gov. Rod Blagojevich front and center in the corruption trial of his friend and fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

With an overflow crowd on hand for the politically charged trial, the first government witnesses painted a portrait of Rezko as someone with extraordinary access to the governor and his administration, attending strategy sessions and sitting in on job interviews for key positions.

Testimony from an FBI analyst pointed to a reason behind Rezko’s influence: money. Special Agent Charles Willenborg said that internal Blagojevich campaign documents credited Rezko with raising more than $1.4 million for the governor between June 2001 and August 2004.

That is nearly three times what Rezko has publicly acknowledged raising for Blagojevich. In a 2005 interview with the Tribune, he put the number at about $500,000.

The Rezko case is fraught with political peril not only for Blagojevich but also for Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama, another friend of Rezko. Obama has little connection to the criminal case against Rezko. But the link between the two has fanned national interest in a trial that already was receiving outsized attention in Chicago.”

“Levine was a member of two state panels at the heart of the government’s case, reappointed to both in 2003 by Blagojevich after input from Rezko. One board was responsible for investing $30 billion in teacher pension assets; the other had the power to approve hospital expansion projects throughout the state.”

“Rezko has raised money for many politicians , Duffy said, among them former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, former Gov. Jim Edgar and Obama.

That was the only reference Thursday to the senator, whose presidential campaign has been hounded by questions about his ties to Rezko. Prosecutors say at least $20,000 of teacher pension fund money allegedly looted by Rezko found its way through a middleman into Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign.”

“Susan Lichtenstein, once the Blagojevich administration’s top lawyer, testified that Rezko enjoyed unusual influence for someone with no official state position. Lichtenstein said Rezko was present when she interviewed with Blagojevich about her job.

And, she said, Rezko was on hand at several strategy retreats where key Blagojevich aides and the governor hashed out administration strategy.”

“Many large contributions to the governor came from donors already linked to the case against Rezko, including two appointees to the state hospital board. Each gave Blagojevich $25,000 shortly after their appointments.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tony-rezko-trial-07mar07,0,77138.story

Blagojevich trial, Update, April 20, 2010, Christopher Kelly suicide, Prosecution seeks to limit defense arguments, Robert Blagojevich

Blagojevich trial, Update, April 20, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune, April 19, 2010
“Feds say Blagojevich lawyers should not tell jury about chief fundraiser’s suicide”

“Prosecutors in Chicago are urging a federal judge to bar former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers from telling the jury at his corruption trial about his chief fundraiser’s suicide.

In court papers Monday, prosecutors say Blagojevich and his attorneys have made remarks suggesting they might bring up fundraiser Christopher Kelly’s suicide at the trial.

The south suburban contractor headed Blagojevich’s campaign committee and was found dead of an apparent overdose last September. He had been a defendant in three different corruption cases and was set to enter prison within days.”

Read more:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/topic/sns-ap-il–blagojevich-corruptioncase,0,2396658.story
“Prosecution seeks to limit defense arguments in upcoming Blagojevich trial”

“But the government maintains it is simply trying to keep issues irrelevant to the criminal charges from jurors.

On that same note, prosecutors said the defense shouldn’t be allowed to raise Blagojevich’s impeachment or any positive actions he took as governor.

Blagojevich has long called for all the undercover tapes to be played, not just the ones preferred by prosecutors, saying he is confident he would be vindicated if the entire record was heard.

But prosecutors said it would improper for Blagojevich’s attorney to make reference to this, since it involves legal rulings by the judge that should be off-limits for the jury.

“Comments by counsel or witnesses along the lines, ‘If it was up to us, we would play all the tapes,’ are improper,” the government said in its filing.

Zagel already has said in court that Blagojevich could be able to play some of the tapes he wants if they corroborate his testimony. The former governor has promised to testify at the trial slated to begin June 3.

Also Monday, prosecutors objected to a request by Blagojevich’s brother, Robert, for a separate trial. The brother ran Rod Blagojevich’s campaign fund for part of 2008 and allegedly participated in only a small percentage of the charged misconduct, according to his lawyer, Michael Ettinger.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-blagojevich-bar-testimony-20100419,0,2596293.story

ACORN, Health Care Bill, Harry Reid, Manager’s amendment, Racial quotas, Department of Health and Human Services

From One News Now, December 23, 2009.

“Who benefits from Senate healthcare? ACORN!”

“A legal scholar says the Senate healthcare bill is not only stuffed full of racial quotas and preferences, but it also gives the disgraced liberal activist group ACORN opportunities to receive funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

 
Harry Reid’s (D-Nevada) “manager’s amendment” in the Senate healthcare bill requires that six federal agencies each establish an “Office of Minority Health.” Under that requirement, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is supposed to award grants and contracts to organizations that are “indigenous human resource providers in communities of color” and engage in “community outreach activities” — the type of work ACORN says it has been doing for years.
 
Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, says scandal-plagued ACORN — the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now — is exactly the kind of organization that will be applying for and receiving these federal funds.
 
“It illustrates this wrong assumption that’s all throughout this huge bill, and that is there are all these racial preferences and racial quotas everywhere in it,” he explains.  “There’s this whole assumption by the left that the disparities in healthcare have to do with the racial background of doctors — something that is completely untrue — and it’s these kinds of things that in fact may worsen healthcare across the country.””

Read more:

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=826068

Senate cloture vote, December 21, 2009, 1:00 AM ET, Harry Reid, Ben Nelson, $470 billion Medicare cuts, $548 billion in new taxes next year

Jeff Schreiber does a great job over at America’s Right. Here is a great article about the rape of America that just took place while most of us were sleeping. Thanks Jeff.

“Is This For Real?

It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Sunday night. I’m in a king-size hotel room bed in Athens, GA with a snoozing wife and a three-year-old who is still singing “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” despite the long, fun-filled day she had. It’s late. And, yet, on one side of my sister-in-law’s fancy MacBook Pro is a live stream from the floor of the United States Senate.

It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Sunday night. And Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is speaking, right now, on the floor about the Senate’s health care reform bill, which will be voted on in a little less than two hours from now. He’s talking about how private insurance companies will be forced to spend 85 cents out of every dollar on patient health care costs. Where, may I ask, does our federal government have the authority to mandate the capital structure of private companies? Where?

Why else would the lights even be on in the Capitol building unless our government is up to no good? This is legislation which will not even come into effect until 2014, two years after the next presidential election, and yet the Democrats feel it so essential to work through the night as the last weekend before Christmas comes to a close?

Most of America is fast asleep. Most of the people whom these senators represent, even if they wanted to pay attention, are sawing logs (probably not literally, though I’m sure there are a strange few) and catching winks in advance of a working Monday tomorrow. These people have no business whatsoever working right now. It might be different if they were burning the midnight oil in an attempt to save the nation with legislation that would have an immediate impact, but they are not — instead, they’re planning the destruction of our economy and health care system through legislation which will not take effect (other than the spending aspect of it) for another four years. If this is a great bill, if it is so necessary, and if the 60 percent or so of Americans who vigorously oppose it just don’t have their facts straight, then they should be debating it during the day, when most of America is awake and attentive.

12:06 a.m.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander made an excellent point — the reason they’re working now is because Harry Reid dropped a 400-page amendment on Friday, something that has been written and kept under the cover of darkness, and that they want to have it passed as part of the bill before Americans can figure out what’s in it.

I can count on the fingers of one hand when I’ve read 400 pages of anything in one day. One was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, which I read in the course of one night as a kid. Another was Bernie Goldberg’s Bias, which may not be 400 pages long, but was finished in the course of a single afternoon. Reading, digesting and researching 400 pages of legislative language in one day is nearly impossible.

Other things Alexander noted:
$470 billion over the next ten years will be cut out of Medicare, and about $1 trillion in total.
$548 billion in new taxes starting next year. So much for reducing joblessness. And the taxes on medical devices will be passed along to consumers, as will the increased regulation on private insurers, which will be passed along in the form of increased premiums. So much for reducing health care costs.

The CBO said that 9 million will lose employer-based insurance. So much for insuring everyone.
Changes the bi-partisan agreement not to federally fund abortion.

A political kamikaze mission toward an unfortunate mistake. Damaging to the Democrats, but worse for our country. Nicely put.”

“12:32 a.m.

Chris Dodd is up. I can’t even look at him, nonetheless listen to him, without getting irreversibly angry. The only time I want to see Christopher Dodd at 12:32 a.m., or frankly at any time of day, is if he’s wearing handcuffs. And not in a Barney Frank kind-of-way, either — I want to see Dodd being led into prison like Bernie Madoff.

More Ted Kennedy stuff. Good grief. If Ted Kennedy were a normal, everyday American in the aftermath of this legislation, he would have been cold and dead long before he passed with the benefit of the best health care that money can buy, the same health care innovation and ingenuity that the Democrats are poised to stifle, discourage and destroy.”

“12:54 a.m.

And, as if to show evidence of nothing good happening in Washington, D.C. at all, Harry Reid is up.

Every ten minutes, he says, another American dies because they don’t have health insurance. Oh, please. We have emergency rooms ready and able to care for illegal immigrants who have no identification, nonetheless insurance. What’s going to happen is that Americans are going to die because Democrats destroyed the American health care system. What’s going to happen is that Americans are going to die while waiting for six months for a biopsy.

I will dance a jig in my new living room next November when Fox News Channel calls the Nevada election for whomever is running against Reid. And then I’ll switch over to MSNBC–just for a moment–to watch them call it. In fact, I will keep champagne on ice to enjoy during his concession speech.

And, gosh darn it, health care is NOT a fundamental right. Freedom is a fundamental right, and what they are doing right now is destroying freedom in the name of the perpetuation of power.”

“1:08 a.m.

Here goes. Cloture on Reid’s amendment, and the vote which sets up a Christmas Eve vote on the destruction of American freedom and prosperity. I mean, seriously? They need to tear these people away from their families, just so Americans from coast to coast will be too busy eating dinner and enjoying their own families to notice?

Bayh is an “aye.” Burris is an “aye.” Byrd has been dusted off and wheeled in; he’s an “aye.” Bob Casey, supposedly a pro-life Democrat, is an “aye” to a bill which federally funds abortions. Susan Collins votes “no.”

Lieberman? Aye.

Lincoln? Aye.

Landrieu? Aye.

Nelson? Aye. Unreal.

Cloture passes by a vote of 60 to 40. At 1:18 a.m. Procedural votes will come at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday and 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. The vote for final passage will come at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday night. That’s Christmas Eve. It seems America will be getting a lump of coal in her stocking this year, and from this year on.”

This is a must read and please pass this on:

http://www.americasright.com/2009/12/is-this-for-real.html

Citizen Wells

Next election

Lieberman voted out, Aye.

Lincoln voted out, Aye.

Landrieu voted out, Aye

Reid voted out, Aye!!!!!

Thanks CW commenters.

Rod Blagojevich trial, Obama testify?, Blagojevich lawyer Sam Adam Jr, Obama has material information on case, US District Judge James Zagel

From the Chicago Tribune, December 17, 2009.

“State of corruption: Blagojevich lawyer hoping to get Obama to testify at trial”

“Lawyers for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday sought early access to an interview of President Barack Obama by federal investigators as the defense weighs whether to try to call Obama as a witness in Blagojevich’s trial next year.

Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., said he realizes it would be an uphill battle to get a sitting president to testify.

Obama was questioned by investigators after Blagojevich was arrested last December on charges he tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by Obama after being elected president.

The defense is also seeking reports of interviews of Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, as well as other staffers about any conversations they might have had with Blagojevich or his aides about the Senate seat.”

“U.S. District Judge James Zagel gave prosecutors until Jan. 8 to respond in writing to the defense request. The defense is also seeking all witness statements in the case earlier than the rules of evidence call for so it can be prepared for the June 3 trial.”

Read more:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-blago-obama-trialdec17,0,2299601.story