Breaking: Blago gets RICO indictments

And it looks big.  The wire services haven’t reported it as I post this, but the Capitol Fax blog and Legal Insurrection have links to the indictment.  CF boils it down:

Among the new factual allegations are that:

  • beginning in 2002 and continuing after Blagojevich was first elected governor, Blagojevich and Monk, along with Kelly and previously convicted co-schemer Antoin “Tony” Rezko, agreed that they would use the offices of governor and chief of staff for financial gain, which would be divided among them with the understanding that the money would be distributed after Blagojevich left public office;
  • in 2003, Blagojevich, Monk, Kelly, Rezko and other co-schemers implemented this agreement by directing lucrative state business relating to the refinancing of billions of dollars in State of Illinois Pension Obligation Bonds to a company whose lobbyist agreed to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rezko out of the fee the lobbyist would collect, and Rezko in turn agreed to split the money with Blagojevich, Monk and Kelly;
  • After it became public that Kelly and Rezko were under investigation and ceased playing a significant role in raising campaign funds, Blagojevich personally continued to trade his actions as governor for personal benefits, including, for example, delaying a state grant to a publicly-supported school while trying to leverage a U.S. Congressman, who supported the school, or the Congressman’s brother, to hold a campaign fundraiser for Blagojevich; and
  • in an interview on March 16, 2005, Blagojevich lied to FBI agents when he said that he maintains a separation, or firewall, between politics and state business; and he does not track, or want to know, who contributes to him or how much they are contributing to him.

It looks very broad based, and Patrick Fitzgerald appears to have gone after the entire spoils system run by Blagojevich.  His co-conspirators in the RICO indictments are:

  • John Harris, his last chief of staff
  • Robert Blagojevich, his brother
  • Alonzo Monk, his former chief of staff
  • William Cellini, Sr
  • Christopher Kelly

Kelly, Monk, and Robert Blagojevich all headed Friends of Blagojevich, which Fitzgerald alleges was basically a holding corporation for corrupt funds.  Tony Rezko also makes an appearance in this indictment, but he’s not among those indicted.  Looks like Rezko flipped.

Update: Stuart Levine is also an unindicted co-conspirator.  He must also have flipped.  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about Levine’s testimony about a big squeeze play Kelly and Cellini tried to pull on a Hollywood producer and financier, who decided to fight back.

Also, the indictment has charges for mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery, and extortion.  Sounds like Chicago, all right.

Update II: The Rosenberg-Capri Capital part of the indictment is interesting.  Apparently, after Rosenberg fired back at the corrupt Blagojevich Enterprise and threatened to expose the extortion attempt, Blago and his buddies decided to give him the TRS contract in the hope Rosenberg would keep quiet — but they also decided to block him from getting any more business.

Update III: David Freddoso does some counting and comes up with 19 counts on the RICO indictment — and 16 of them are for Rod Blagojevich alone.

The AP has its report out on the wires:

A sweeping federal indictment charges former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with scheming to auction off President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, pressuring a congressman for campaign money and lying to FBI agents.

The 19-count indictment handed down Thursday against Blagojevich and others also alleges billions of dollars in state pension bonds were refinanced in exchange for the promise of a massive kickback, among other crimes.

The big question now — will Blago roll over on the rest of Chicago gang?  He’s been pretty combative so far, but staring down the gun of a 19-count federal indictment may have a clarifying effect on Blago.  It certainly did with Rezko and apparently Levine.

Update IV: This has to be the quote of the day from the indictment, on page 32.  Fitzgerald describes an extortion attempt of a construction executive and the way Blagojevich manipulated state transportation spending to benefit the Blagojevich Enterprise:

It was further part of the scheme that, on or about October 6, 2008, defendant ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Lobbyist A that he would make an announcement concerning a $1.8 billion project involving the Tollway and that defendant MONK would approach Construction Executive to ask that he raise substantial campaign contributions.  ROD BLAGOJEVICH further said that he could have announced a larger amount of money for road projects, but wanted to see how Construction Executive performed in raising contributions, and he added words to the effect of “If they don’t perform, fuck ’em.”

Quite the little crime-boss emperor, wasn’t he?

Update V: No, no mention of Rahm Emanuel or Barack Obama.  For that matter, no mention of Richard Daley, either, although you have to wonder whether Fitzgerald may have something else entirely for Hizzoner.