Rod Blagojevich indicted on Felony Corruption Charges
Blagojevich, his brother, top aides indicted
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his brother Rob and Christopher Kelly, a former top fundraiser for Blagojevich, were all indicted today on corruption charges, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago announced.
Also charged in the indictment were Lon Monk, a lobbyist and former Blagojevich chief of staff; John Harris, also a former chief of staff to Blagojevich; and William Cellini, a Springfield insider for decades.
Fantasy land and wild rides, sound pretty appealing, when you're facing 16 felony counts of government corruption, that's exactly the situation former Governor Rod Blagojevich is in.
And yes, he's in Disney World as the allegations came down.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors filed a 75 page indictment with details of their investigation.
Not only that, five others were charged in connection with Blagojevich including two top aides, two other businessmen, and his brother Robert.
U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney Northern District of Illinois
Patrick J. Fitzgerald Federal Building United States Attorney 219 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY APRIL 2, 2009
U.S. Attorney’s Office
FORMER ILLINOIS GOV. ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, HIS BROTHER, TWO FORMER TOP AIDES AND TWO BUSINESSMEN INDICTED ON FEDERAL CORRUPTION CHARGES ALLEGING PERVASIVE FRAUD
CHICAGO – Since 2002, even before he was first elected governor that November, and continuing until he was arrested on Dec. 9, 2008, former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and a circle of his closest aides and advisors allegedly engaged in a wide-ranging scheme to deprive the people of Illinois of honest government, according to a 19-count indictment returned today by a federal grand jury. Blagojevich, 52, of Chicago, was charged with 16 felony counts, including racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal agents. He allegedly used his office in numerous matters involving state appointments, business, legislation and pension fund investments to seek or obtain such financial benefits as money, campaign contributions, and employment for himself and others, in exchange for official actions, including trying to leverage his authority to appoint a United States Senator, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Also charged as co-defendants in the same indictment are:
John Harris, 47, of Chicago, Blagojevich’s chief of staff from late 2005 until last
December after he was arrested along with Blagojevich. Through his attorney, Harris,
who is charged with a single count of wire fraud, has authorized the Government to
disclose that he has agreed to cooperate with the United States Attorney’s Office in
the prosecution of this case;
Alonzo Monk, 50, of Park Ridge, a lobbyist doing business as AM3 Consulting, Ltd., and a long-time Blagojevich associate who served as his general counsel when Blagojevich represented Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District, and later managed his 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial campaigns, was his first gubernatorial chief of staff from 2003 through 2005, and later chairman of his campaign fund;
Robert Blagojevich, 53, of Nashville, Tenn., Blagojevich’s brother, who became
chairman of his campaign fund in August 2008;
Christopher Kelly, 50, of Burr Ridge, a businessman and a principal campaign fundraiser who also served as chairman of Blagojevich’s campaign fund from early 2004 until August 2005. The indictment alleges that with Blagojevich’s knowledge and permission, Kelly at times exercised substantial influence over certain activities of the governor’s office; and
William F. Cellini, Sr., 74, of Springfield, a businessman who also raised significant funds for Blagojevich, in part through his role as the executive director of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association. Cellini had longstanding relationships and influence with trustees and staff members of the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois (TRS), and he was associated with Commonwealth Realty Advisors, a real estate asset management firm that invested hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of TRS, the indictment alleges.
All six defendants will be arraigned on dates yet to be determined before U.S. District Judge
James B. Zagel in Federal Court in Chicago. Blagojevich was charged with 11 counts of wire fraud,
two counts of attempted extortion, and one count each of racketeering conspiracy, extortion
conspiracy, and making false statements. The specific counts and maximum penalties each defendant
is facing are listed separately.
The charges are part of Operation Board Games, a continuing public corruption investigation
of pay-to-play schemes, including insider-dealing, influence-peddling and kickbacks involving
private interests and public duties. The investigation began in 2003 and has resulted in charges
against a total of 17 defendants. Today’s charges were brought in a superseding indictment that
replaces one brought Oct. 30, 2008, against Cellini alone for allegedly conspiring with others to
obtain campaign funds for Blagojevich by shaking down an investment firm that was seeking a $220 million allocation from TRS.
Mr. Fitzgerald announced the indictment with Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; Thomas P. Brady, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; and James Vanderberg, Regional Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.
The indictment adds several new allegations to those that were lodged in the criminal complaint filed in December when Blagojevich and Harris were arrested. It includes the previous factual allegations that Blagojevich conspired to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Obama; threatened to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and schemed to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and in a push late last year before a new state ethics law took effect.
Among the new factual allegations are that:
It’ll shock virtually no one, but former Illinois Rod Blagojevich is indicted for even more crimes than initially thought. Federal prosecutors have concluded that Blago tried to run the state as a Mafia-business.