Former aide to Rod Blagojevich pleads guilty to corruption charges

CHICAGO — A former aide to ousted Illinois Gov.

Rod Blagojevich has pleaded guilty to corruption charges and has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their investigation of Blagojevich.

Alonzo Monk pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge James Zagel for trying to shake down a racetrack owner for a $100,000 campaign contribution.

The promise of personal financial benefits drove former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s decision in 2003 to choose Bear, Stearns & Co. to run the books on the state’s general obligation pension bond sale and to give his go-ahead on the day of pricing to issue the full $10 billion authorization, the governor’s former chief of staff alleged in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors filed yesterday.

The details on the scheme were disclosed yesterday in Alonzo “Lon” Monk’s 31-page agreement with U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office in which he pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud. His cooperation — which comes with a recommendation for a 24-month prison sentence — marks a significant advancement as the government builds its public corruption case against Blagojevich, who was stripped of office by the General Assembly in January following his December arrest.

Chicago, IL - Alonzo Monk, a former lobbyist and chief of staff to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors in their corruption charges against the former governor. Monk joins another former top Blagojevich aide, John Harris, in entering a plea agreement.

Blagojevich was indicted on April 2 on 16 felony counts, including racketeering conspiracy and extortion conspiracy, along with his brother Rob and four associates: Harris, Monk, and fundraisers William Cellini and Christopher Kelly. His trial begins June 3 next year.

Rod Blagojevich's former chief of staff and campaign manager will testify against his old boss in the upcoming corruption trial. As part of a plea deal, Alonzo Monk agreed Tuesday to take the stand against the former Illinois governor in exchange for a reduced sentence of 24 months in federal prison, according to the Wall Street Journal. Monk pleaded guilty to mail fraud after admitting that he tried to trade campaign contributions from a horse track owner for legislation that would favor the horse racing industry.

Monk, 51, has been part of the former governor's inner circle since the two roomed together in law school. He's the second former aide to turn on Blagojevich. Last summer, John Harris, who succeeded Monk as chief of staff, struck a similar plea deal after admitting to wire fraud. In exchange for a reduced sentence, he agreed to testify how Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.