Blagojevich Prosecution to Rest on Thursday - FOX 32 News Chicago

Blagojevich Prosecution to Rest on Thursday


Prosecutors said they plan to call four witnesses on Friday to testify against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and then they will rest their case.

Complete Rod Blagojevich Trial Coverage >>

Key Points :

  • In Lon Monk's cross-examination, the defense tried to paint him as a "rich kid" who Blagojevich, a poor kid from the Northwest Side, trusted. The defense also ran into numerous sustained objections from the prosecution and received a stern warning from Judge James Zagel to not ask questions he had already deemed inappropriate. The prosecution later asked the judge to instruct the jury not to write down any questions that were objected to and the judge warned the defense again to not commit "flagrant fouls".
  • Monk Tuesday described how as a lobbyist he helped Blagojevich shake down a racetrack owner for a $100,000 campaign contribution. He also admitted that when he was chief of staff, he pocketed up to $90,000 in illegal cash payments from fundraiser Tony Rezko.
  • The defense filed a motion Wednesday requesting to be able to ask John Johnston about the legislative history of the racetrack bill and when it was passed. The motion argues the prosecution has redacted portions of the history it presented during openings and it has “stymied” the defense. The judge has previously ruled the defense cannot ask questions about the racetrack bill being signed in Dec. 2008 because the shakedown focuses on the length of time it went without passing, not its ultimate passage.
  • The jury also heard Tuesday from road-building executive Gerald Krozel, who testified Blagojevich applied pressure to him for campaign contributions.
  • After court Tuesday, Blagojevich expressed his frustration with the trial. “If I wasn't living through this whole experience, I just wouldn't believe it. This is a case that is completely upside down. And we'll continue to keep fighting as we deal with this, because there's a purpose behind all of this, and that's to get to the real truth,” Blagojevich said.
  • After Monk finished, racetrack owner John Johnston testified. The prosecution said they would call four witnesses on Thursday, including Bradley Tusk, Doug Scofield and FBI Agent Dan Cain. The prosecution said they expect to rest Thursday. The defense -- if there's going to be one -- will start Monday, and the judge expects closing arguments by May 31.

UPDATE:  4:50 p.m.
Aaron Goldstein cross-examined Johnston, and the judge prohibited the defense from asking Johnston questions about donations to other politicians.

The attorneys finished with Johnston and then talked with the judge about scheduling. 

The government has four witnesses scheduled for Thursday, and they'll be all done with all four by noon or early afternoon. The judge said it wasn't fair to force the defense to begin on Thursday afternoon, so he said they can start on Monday.

Defense attorneys are not saying whether they will actually present a defense. If they do, the judge said they need to tell the prosecution who the first witnesses will be.

Sorosky's response: "We have nothing to hide."

Assuming the prosecution and possible rebuttal takes three and a half or four days, the judge said he anticipates closing arguments on May 31.


UPDATE:  3:50 p.m.
The prosecution says they have five remaining witnesses, and none will take long. Then they called John Johnston to the stand.


UPDATE:  2:50 p.m.
Sorosky asked Monk about Johnston losing $9,000/day waiting for the race track bill to be signed, and Monk said that is what Johnston told him.

Sorosky asked about the $70,000 to $80,000 he got from Rezko, and Monk said he thought it was a gift and a possible salary advance.

Sorosky is done with his re-cross and court is on a short break.


UPDATE:  2:44 p.m.
On re-direct, Monk said that Blagojevich told him to set up the September 2008 meeting with Krozel to ask for a donation, that Blagojevich did most of the talking, that he asked Krozel for money, and said he wanted it by the end of the year.

Monk said that Rezko was a multi-million dollar fundraiser for Blagojevich, and that in 2003 and 2004, no one was more important to Blagojevich than Rezko and Chris Kelly. When Rezko gave him money, Monk said, Blagojevich would not approve of him putting it in a bank or using an ATM card to get it out, because it could lead to an investigation.

Prosecution asked Monk how he could justify taking money from Rezko. Monk said they'd talked about him working for Rezko at a later date, so he told himself it was a salary advance.

The prosecution also walked Monk back through his testimony over lying to Blagojevich about the status of the Johnston donation and lying to him about being on a golf vacation.


UPDATE:  2:34 p.m.
Monk testified after a Dec. 3, 2008 conversation with Blagojevich at the campaign office about what to say to Johnston, he went to see Johnston at the Maywood racetrack. Monk said he called Blagojevich to tell him about the meeting afterward.

Monk testified he pled guilty to conspiracy to solicit a bribe from Johnston. The judge sustained an objection when the defense asked that Monk was looking for a bribe from Johnston, not a donation. Zagel said the defense could not ask questions about his plea deal not involving Tony Rezko.

Monk testified he pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement and Zagel will decide if Monk gets prison time based on the deal.

The defense then finished its cross-examination of Monk.


UPDATE:  2:18 p.m.
The jury was let back into the court room and Judge Zagel instructed them that questions from attorneys are not evidence. When the judge sustains an objection, he said, the jury cannot consider the question or speculate on an answer. Zagel said not to be influenced by the fact that an attorney made an objection.

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky continued his cross-examination of Monk. Monk testified he had many conversations with John Johnston about contributing to Blagojevich and he told Blagojevich that Johnston was good for it. Monk said he believed Johnston was good for it.

Monk confirmed that Blagojevich told him that he would sign the racetrack bill and never said he would only sign it if he got a donation from Johnston.

In Nov. 20, 2008, the bill passed the General Assembly and was sent to Blagojevich for a signature Nov. 24.

Sorosky tried to ask about timing issues regarding Blagojevich signing the bill, but the judge sustained an objection from the prosecution. An objection was also sustained when Sorosky asked Monk if he suggested Blagojevich call Johnston about a donation in Sept. or Oct. 2008.

Monk confirmed he suggested to Blagojevich on Dec. 4, 2008 that Blagojevich call Johnston to ask for a donation, but that if Blagojevich ever did make the call Monk wasn’t present.

Monk confirmed that at a Dec. 3, 2008 meeting at the Friends of Blagojevich campaign offices, Monk and Blagojevich role-played certain conversations regarding what to say to Johnston to get a donation from him.

Monk said Blagojevich never told him to tell Johnston if he didn’t donate, Blagojevich wouldn’t sign the bill.

Monk said on Dec. 3, Blagojevich didn’t use the exact words to say he wouldn’t sign the bill if Johnston didn’t donate.

Monk testified he did tell Johnston there was some concern about when the racetrack bill was signed and the donation made, that Blagojevich was concerned if he signed the bill, Johnston would be “skittish” about giving a contribution so close to the signing.

The defense said they had one or two more questions on the bill and then would be done.

Sorosky tried to ask Monk if he understood that Blagojevich wouldn’t sign the bill if he didn’t get a contribution despite never saying those words.

Monk said Blagojevich never said those words to him or anyone else, as far he knew.

The judge went into a sidebar conference with attorneys about the line of questioning.


UPDATE:  1:50 p.m.
Before the jury was brought back in the room after lunch, the prosecution complained to the judge that the defense is asking improper questions and even though the prosecution’s objections are sustained, some jurors are writing down the questions so they get across.

The prosecution asked the judge to instruct the jury that questions are not evidence and they cannot be written down if the objection is sustained.

The defense tried to justify their lines of questioning regarding Krozel and the capital bill, but the judge said they were making an incoherent argument and told them to move on.

The defense objected to the prosecution suggesting the judge tell the jury to not consider the questions asked on cross-examination, saying the prosecution was trying to diminish their case. Judge Zagel said he doesn’t know what their case is other than what was said in openings.

Judge Zagel said the defense was misconstruing the prosecution’s position but said he wasn’t sure the prosecution had proposed an adequate remedy.

Zagel said some of the questions hint at facts that haven’t been proven, and the defense cannot ask any other questions they tried before regarding if Mike Madigan would let the capital bill pass. The judge said the dfense could ask what the witness though about the capital bill.

Zagel said would tell the jury, and remind them periodically. He said he would end an examination if he has to and sit an attorney if this type of questioning continued.

The judge said asking one inappropriate question isn’t a “flagrant foul,” but doing so repeatedly is. Zagel said he hopes the defense would take the ruling to heart. When defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky tried to respond, the judge cut him off and said “I don’t want to hear about it; I want to see you do it.”


UPDATE:  12:35 p.m.
Monk said at a meeting with Krozel, he told Monk he was working on getting the money, but when Monk told Blagojevich Krozel might not be able to raise the money, Blagojevich asked if he could raise $100,000 instead.

The defense tried to ask questions that Blagojevich was just fundraising and not concerned with the dollar amount, but the judge sustained objections and told them to save it for closing arguments.

The defense then tried to ask several questions about the capital bill, including whether Blagojevich wanted it to pass, whether Mike Madigan was it’s main opponent and whether a senate seat deal between the two could have gotten it passed. The judge sustained several objections and warned defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky that if he continued asking questions the judge already said were inappropriate, he might want to consider sitting down. Judge James Zagel said he wasn’t sitting Sorosky, just suggesting he think about it.

When the defense asked if Johnston was on a list of prospective donors at a Friend of Blagojevich campaign meeting Sept. 12, 2008, Monk testified he didn’t specifically remember but assumed so.

Monk testified Johnston did not make a commitment to make a contribution. Monk said he was assigned to get a contribution from Johnston in summer of fall 2008 and he attempted to do so.

The judge said the cross-examination was getting lengthy and stopped the court for a lunch break. During the latter part of the cross, numerous objections were sustained.


UPDATE:  12:13 p.m.
Monk said he did not represent the Illinois Road Builders Association as a lobbyist and he didn’t know who Gerald Krozel was before 2008, when he knew him as an acquaintance.

Monk testified he was assigned to get a contribution from the road builders either at a fundraising meeting or in a conversation with Blagojevich before Blagojevich said he was going to announce a $1.8 billion road construction project.

Monk said the first time they asked Krozel for money was in a meeting in late summer or early fall 2008, during which Blagojevich told Krozel he was going to announce the $1.8 billion Tollway project. Blagojevich asked Krozel for a contribution by the end of the year, mentioned the ethics bill and said they had a fundraising push going on, Monk testified.

Monk confirmed Krozel said he would like to help but couldn’t because of financial difficulties. Blagojevich asked if there was anything he could do to help, and Krozel suggested Blagojevich meet with the new president of Prairie Construction, where Krozel worked.

Blagojevich met with Krozel twice to talk about fundraising, Monk testified, and he met with Krozel individually several times as well to talk about contributions.

Monk said when Blagojevich said to him, if Krozel doesn’t perform, “f*** ‘em,” Monk was the only one present and he didn’t repeat it to Krozel. Monk confirmed Blagojevich used profanity a lot in conversation, and the defense tried to argue this was just a conversation “between two pals.”


UPDATE:  11:51 a.m.
With the jury out of the room for a break, the attorneys discussed a piece of evidence the defense wanted to introduce to ask Monk about. The defense said they wanted Monk to confirm the chain of events were first, wire taps, second Blagojevich was charged and third Monk decided to cooperate. The prosecution said some of the exhibit is inaccurate and Monk doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of all of it to testify.

The judge said the exhibit shouldn’t be shown when Monk is on the stand, but the defense might be able to show it later in the trial, perhaps in closings.


UPDATE:  11:24 a.m.
After about an hour, Monk’s cross-examination continued. After being shown a transcript of a Nov. 13, 2008 phone call, Monk confirmed he lied to Blagojevich when he told him Johnston was good for some campaign money but was trying to figure out where to get it.

Monk confirmed he lied to Johnston in a Dec. 2, 2008 phone call, saying he had spoken to Blagojevich the night before though he hadn’t.

Monk confirmed he also lied to Blagojevich during a Dec. 3, 2008 meeting in which they talked about who should talk to Johnston about the racetrack bill. In the meeting, Monk told Blagojevich he was going to see his father in Oklahoma the next when he was really going on a golf vacation to the Dominican Republic.

Monk confirmed in a Dec. 4, 2008 call while Monk was at the airport heading to his vacation, he told Blagojevich he “got in [Johnston’s] face” the day before.

The defense asked Monk if he lied to the FBI agent who called him on the day Blagojevich was arrested (Dec. 9, 2008) regarding the last time he spoke to Blagojevich, but the judge sustained an objection from the prosection.

Monk confirmed he told all the lies to benefit himself.


UPDATE:  10:21 a.m.  from the Associated Press
The defense was trying to portray Monk as a "rich kid" who betrayed his old friend's trust. Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky asked Monk if Blagojevich hired him "because he trusted you and you were his friend?" Sorosky then referred to Monk's upbringing in California as the son of a doctor and to Blagojevich's working-class background.

Sorosky asked, "Is it fair to say, you were the rich kid form California and (Blagojevich) was the poor kid from the northwest side of Chicago?"

The judge sustained prosecutors' objections to both questions.


UPDATE:  9:53 a.m.
Monk took the stand for cross-examination. The defense asked Monk if in 2002 he had a relationship with Mayor Daley or Mike Madigan, to which Monk said no. When asked, “So you were hired by Blagojevich because he trusted you?”, Monk confirmed that was the reason.


Rod Blagojevich Scandal: More Key Players

Visit the "Who's Who" page to learn more about the former Illinois governor , his co-defendants, inner circle, the legal team and what people like President Obama , Sen. Dick Durbin and other high-profile people have to do with the case. >>

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