OCTOBER 20, 2009
In major blow to Illinois’ ousted crooked governor, a top aide has reached a deal with federal prosecutors by pleading guilty to wire fraud in exchange for cooperation against his former boss whose upcoming corruption trial promises to be compelling.
Rod Blagojevich’s former chief-of-staff and law school buddy (Alonzo Monk) has opted to save his own tail rather than go down with his longtime friend for operating a massive bribery scheme that sold the influence of the governor’s office, lucrative state jobs and contracts to the highest bidder. Blagojevich even tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated when Barack Obama got elected president and has been charged with a slew of crimes in a massive federal indictment.
Monk, a key player in the various illegal operations, has offered federal prosecutors crucial information, testimony and evidence that could ultimately put Blagojevich behind bars for decades. In his deal, Monk admitted that he schemed to shake down a racetrack owner for a $100,000 in exchange for the Blagojevich’s approval of a bill to help subsidize tracks. He also admitted using the influence of the governor’s office to extort state businesses for cash.
The one-time gubernatorial aide and esteemed Illinois lobbyist will only serve 24 months in prison. Blagojevich, on the other hand, won’t get off so easy and faces a barrage of felonies that culminate a three-year investigation into his shady administration. Court-authorized wiretaps actually captured the disgraced governor trying to sell or trade Obama’s Senate seat for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife.
In the recordings, Blagojevich is heard trying to; obtain a substantial salary for himself at either a non-profit or an organization affiliated with labor unions; place his wife on paid corporate boards where she could make $150,000 a year; obtain campaign donations as well as cash up front and a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself. Calling the breadth of corruption staggering, prosecutors said the governor put a “for sale” sign on the naming of a United States senator.
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