Blagojevich's wife received tens of thousands from Antoin Rezko, prosecutors allege
Updated 6:05 p.m.
By Peter Slevin
CHICAGO -- Illinois businessman and Democratic fundraiser Antoin Rezko was so anxious to help his friend, then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), that he funneled tens of thousands of dollars in payments to Blagojevich's wife, federal prosecutors contend in a document unsealed Wednesday.
Patti Blagojevich did no work for the payments, which were allegedly disguised as real estate commissions and other payments from one of Rezko's Chicago companies. To make it appear that she had earned them, prosecutors allege, she showed up from time to time at Rezko's offices - usually carrying her infant daughter and soon leaving.
"Rezko was willing to do whatever it took to get her money, whether it was from a monthly retainer or through hiring her to work on his development at Roosevelt and Clark," the prosecutors wrote in a 91-page document. The document was made public by U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, who is due to preside over Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial starting June 3.
"Rezko did not seem to care if she actually did anything to earn the money," prosecutors continued. "Rezko was only concerned about ensuring that Blagojevich did not have to worry about his finances."
Patti Blagojevich is named as a "conspirator" in the document, but has not been charged with a crime. Prosecutors cited her alleged participation amid evidence that her husband worked with Rezko and other insiders in illegal money-making schemes that began soon after he took office in January 2003.
Rezko, currently in prison, is better-known nationally as a friend and fundraiser for Barack Obama during the first decade of Obama's political career in Chicago. He did not contribute to Obama's presidential campaign.
Obama, who said he knew nothing of Rezko's criminal activities, called "boneheaded" his own decision to buy a house in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood in July 2005, on the same day Rezko's wife bought the vacant lot next door.
The document also provides fresh details about Blagojevich's increasingly urgent effort to profit from his authority to appoint Obama's successor following his November 2008 election as president.
On Election Day, Blagojevich complained to one of his deputy governors that serving as a two-term governor had been a financial sacrifice.
"Now is the time for me to put my [expletive] children and wife first for a change," Blagojevich said in a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI.
"Despite repeated warnings from others that he could not personally profit in any way, " the prosecutors wrote in outlining their case, "Blagojevich continued to suggest methods in which he could personally profit from the naming of a senator."
Blagojevich has said repeatedly that the federal authorities who arrested him in December 2008 took his statements out of context and that he will be acquitted of all corruption charges.
Zagel unsealed the document, an evidentiary proffer that lays out the government's case, at the request of a group of news organizations. He disagreed with the objections of Blagojevich's attorneys, who argued that the details could prejudice prospective jurors.
Prosecutors offered new details - and fresh quotes from the irrepressible Blagojevich - about his effort to sell or trade the Senate appointment. At one point, Blagojevich discussed various demands that he could make in return for naming Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to the seat.
Blagojevich first set his sights on being named secretary of Health and Human Services. He discussed ambassadorships with his wife, but wanted to know what they paid, the prosecutors said. He wondered if Obama's supporters would find him a well-paid private-sector or foundation job.
"I'd like to get out - the [expletive] out of here," Blagojevich said in one taped conversation. "The objective is to get a good gig over there."
At one point, he talked on the telephone with Patti Blagojevich about the idea of being appointed to direct Change to Win, the breakaway consortium that now includes five labor unions, including the Teamsters, United Farm Workers and the Service Employees International Union.
While they were talking, Patti tried to find out from the Internet what the job paid.
"Don't worry about it...," he tells her, according to the government transcript. "You negotiate that, 'I'd like a four-year contract for a million a year or something.' ... Or 750 or whatever. It'd have to be good. Obama's got excess money. He just gives them more money."
None of Blagojevich's plans yielded the bonanza he was allegedly seeking. Jarrett announced that she was not interested in the Senate seat. On Dec. 9, 2008, the FBI arrested Blagojevich, who later appointed largely retired Chicago lawyer and politician Roland Burris (D) to the seat.
April 14, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Cast of Characters
Save & Share: Previous: Palin rallies Boston 'tea party'
Next: Palin PAC spent little on candidates in first quarter
Posted by: Uncle_Joe | April 15, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: YANKEE57 | April 15, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lilycat1 | April 15, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bobilly2 | April 14, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fabricmaven1 | April 14, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hogsmile | April 14, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bobilly2 | April 14, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: HydeParker | April 14, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tsapp77 | April 14, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: HydeParker | April 14, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: htruman1 | April 14, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LETFREEDOMRING2 | April 14, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: smc635 | April 14, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: drumcrn1 | April 14, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: apspa1 | April 14, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RobParker | April 14, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hurleyvision | April 14, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jd5024 | April 14, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AnnsThought | April 14, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: llrllr | April 14, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 14, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: j751 | April 14, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: edwinayala | April 14, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shewholives | April 14, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SSTK34 | April 14, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.