Illinois Public Media News
Rod Blagojevich's brother says a businessman claimed he could raise millions in campaign funds if Jesse Jackson Jr. were named to the Senate, but that he and the Illinois governor considered it "a joke.''
Robert Blagojevich testified Monday at the ousted governor's corruption trial. He said businessman Raghuveer Nayak told him that he could raise $1 million if the congressman was appointed to the seat Barack Obama was leaving to move to the White House.
Robert Blagojevich said Nayak said he could raise another $5 million eventually. But Robert Blagojevich said neither he nor his brother took the offer seriously. He said he told Nayak that Jackson was not going to be appointed.
Both Blagojevich brothers have pleaded not guilty to taking part in a scheme to sell the Senate seat.
Meanwhile, the federal judge presiding over Blagojevich's corruption trial has denied a motion from defense attorneys asking that the ousted Illinois governor be acquitted.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Monday refused to acquit Blagojevich and told attorneys to go ahead with the defense case. Zagel said he was basing his decision partly on the testimony in the prosecution's case and partly on the tone and manner in which witnesses answered the questions.
Defense attorneys often ask judges for such acquittals at the close of the prosecution case during a trial. The prosecution at the Blagojevich trial rested last week. Such motions are rarely granted.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan sat down with Illinois Public Media's Tom Rogers to discuss her office's new Silver Beat effort to combat fraud against senior citizens. But she also took time to talk about her reaction to wiretap tapes played in former Governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial naming her a a potential US Senate replacement for President Obama as Blagojevich considered the politics of the selection. Madigan also talks about financial reform legislation and a new nationwide consumer protection agency -- but says she'd rather see someone other than her get the job of heading it.
Champaign Police are looking for a dark green SUV driven by a bearded white male in his 40s, following a hit and run accident in the 500 block of Alabama on the city's north side Thursday afternoon.
According to a police department news release, witnesses report seeing the vehicle strike a six year old girl and flee the scene at around 4 PM.afternoon. The vehicle was last seen heading south on Harris Avenue. The child was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.
The vehicle is described as possibly being a GMC Yukon or Ford Explorer model, with lumber extending from the rear driver's side window.
The driver is described as a white male in his 40's, with a full beard and dark hair wearing a blue t-shirt and blue jeans.
Anyone with information about this accident is asked to call Champaign Police at 217-351-4545.
Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS, through their website, or by texting Tip397 plus the information to CRIME (274637).
Federal prosecutors say the corruption trial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is moving forward faster than expected and there is a good chance they will rest their case on Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar made the announcement in court Thursday after Judge James Zagel sent the jury home for the weekend.
Blagojevich's attorneys asked if they could be given more time to prepare given that the prosecution finished sooner than expected. Zagel said he wasn't inclined to grant that but would entertain the idea next week. He said at the earliest they would launch their case on Wednesday.
Earlier during trial proceedings on Thursday, jurors heard an FBI wiretap tape in which Rod Blagojevich told a political pollster on an FBI wiretap tape that naming U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat Barack Obama was leaving would yield "tangible political support.'' Blagojevich referred to "specific amounts and everything,'' and adds "there is some of it up front.''
Jackson has been accused of no wrongdoing in the case. But prosecutors say there is evidence that his supporters spoke about raising a large sum for Blagojevich if he would name the congressman to the Senate.
Also on a wiretap tape, Blagojevich was heard cursing everyone from the president to reporters. The target of his fury was the people of Illinois.
In a phone conversation with an aide, Blagojevich talked about legislative successes. Later he cited poll numbers that show his support at all-time lows.
Sounding increasingly angry, he directed his ire at his constituents, saying that, "Only 13 percent of you all think I'm doing a good job.'' He then cursed as he denounces the public as a whole.
Also on Thursday, former Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee testified that Blagojevich hid in the bathroom or left the office early to avoid discussing complex issues.
Greenlee testified that former key aide John Filan had to chase Blagojevich to discuss important state matters.
Greenlee testified that he had to dine with the Blagojevich family at a bowling alley to get the governor to focus on legislation.
He said he was skeptical when Blagojevich spoke of his hopes of getting a job in Washington but kept quiet because Blagojevich could be argumentative if he didn't like what he heard.
Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to charges including scheming to exchange President Barack Obama's former Senate seat for a high paying job, Cabinet post or massive campaign contribution.
Maintenance workers found a body floating in a public swimming pool in Decatur that is believed to be that of a suspect in a knife attack.
The Macon County Coroner's office says Tiheyon D. Freeman was found early Tuesday in the Fairview Park pool. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
Decatur police say Freeman was a suspect in an attack early Monday that left one woman hospitalized after undergoing surgery to remove part of a knife from her head. A second victim was stabbed several times, but was treated and released from a local hospital.
Decatur Park District officials say the pool in which the body was found will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
Testimony from a labor union official shows ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich angled for job offers and other help from supporters of President Barack Obama.
The SEIU's Tom Balanoff says in November 2008 he acted as a go-between between Blagojevich and members of Obama's inner circle.
In a secretly taped call played at the trial on Tuesday, Blagojevich talks to Balanoff about Senate candidates, including Obama friend Valerie Jarrett.
Then the governor wonders aloud if Obama donors would give millions to start a health care advocacy group Blagojevich could work for.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah and then we can help our new senator, Valerie Jarrett, go out and push that. BALANOFF: So let me...let move this idea and...let me put that flag up and see where it goes.
Balanoff testified Tuesday he never had any intention of looking into Blagojevich's idea.
On cross examination, Balanoff acknowledged Blagojevich never explicitly said he'd appoint Jarrett in exchange for personal benefits or favors.
Balanoff also testified that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias told him in passing, "Maybe (Blagojevich will) appoint me."
When Balanoff told the governor this, he says Blagojevich responded with a expletives aimed at Giannoulias.
Giannoulias' current Senate campaign says his comment to Balanoff about being interested in the seat was made "half jokingly."
Meantime, Balanoff says Blagojevich also dismissed suggestions that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky get the appointment.
He says Blagojevich told him he wanted to pick an African American, so the governor said - quote - "If Jan could show me she had any ancestors who came over on a slave ship, she'd be fine."
A statement from Schakowsky says the comment "demonstrates Blagojevich's cynical attitude toward the African-American community.
A federal jury has convicted former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge of perjury and obstruction of justice charges of lying about the torture of suspects.
Jurors delivered their verdict Monday. Burge now faces up to 45 years in prison.
Burge was accused of lying in a civil suit when he said he'd never seen or participated in the physical abuse of suspects in order to get confessions.
The decorated former lieutenant had testified in his own defense, pitting his word against that of five men who claimed Burge and his officers shocked, suffocated and beat them in the 1970s and 1980s.
Burge was fired from the police department in 1993 over the alleged mistreatment of a suspect. He never was criminally charged in the case.
There's no action Friday in the corruption trial of ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Testimony this week concluded on Thursday with the jury hearing from a former Blagojevich donor.who scored a job leading a state agency.
Ali Ata says in 2002 and 2003, he twice donated $25,000 to Blagojevich's campaign...each time having conversations with the governor that included vague talk of a state job.
With support from Blagojevich and his now-convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko, Ata was appointed executive director of the newly-created Illinois Finance Authority.
The ex-governor's attorney, Sam Adam, Junior, asked Ata several times whether Blagojevich ever told him he needed to contribute to get the state job.
Ata repeatedly said no.
That continued line of questioning clearly frustrated Judge James Zagel.
The judge told Adam that if he didn't think the jury understood that argument by now, "then you should just give up all hope".
Zagel made the remark in front of jurors - some of whom laughed.
Ata returns to the stand on Monday when trial resumes.
Prosecutors in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will continue to question Joseph Cari Thursday morning. Cari is a former Democratic big-wig who previously pleaded guilty to attempted extortion.
Cari managed fund-raising during Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000.
So - Cari testified Wednesday - when he found himself on a private plane headed to New York with Blagojevich back in 2003, the governor asked him about setting up a national fundraising operation.
Cari says, on the flight, Blagojevich told him that, as governor, he could raise big bucks by giving out state contracts, and hitting up those businesses for donations.
Cari told the same story two years ago during the corruption trial of Blagojevich fundraiser Tony Rezko.
On Thursday, Cari will likely detail the extortion attempt he's pleaded guilty to involving a state pension board.
Prosecutors say that was part of a broad conspiracy Governor Blagojevich took part in to enrich his campaign, himself and others.
Cari is cooperating with the government in exchange for a lighter prison sentence for himself.
Prosecutors say they'll ask that the wife of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich leave the courtroom at her husband's corruption trial when testimony about her comes up.
The often stone-faced Patti Blagojevich has sat in the courtroom since the trial began. She's arrived each day with her husband, often holding hands as they enter the Chicago courthouse.
But according to procedures established earlier, she's supposed to leave when certain testimony arises.
She's in the courtroom Thursday as the former governor's first chief of staff, Alonzo Monk, testifies for a second day.
Judge James Zagel says he'll rule on whether she'll have to step outside right before the testimony that involves her. A defense attorney for Blagojevich has said she'll testify in the trial.
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