Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's wife paid $38,000 for home repairs after receiving a large payment for work she didn't do from a campaign fundraiser later convicted of bribery and other charges, federal prosecutors say in court documents released Wednesday.
Patti Blagojevich spent the money two days after Antoin "Tony" Rezko sent her $40,000, prosecutors contend. They say Rezko said the money was a real estate commission for the sale of two properties, but that the governor's wife had no role in the sale.
Prosecutors say that at the time of that payment, Patti Blagojevich was being paid a monthly retainer of $12,000 plus commissions as a Rezko contractor. Prosecutors say under that deal, Rezko's company paid her $96,000 over a five-month period, and that employees of Rezko's company were unaware of any work she performed that justified such a lucrative contract.
The allegations are contained in a 91-page document outlining the government's evidence in the corruption case against Rod Blagojevich and his brother, businessman Robert Blagojevich.
Rod Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to racketeering and fraud charges alleging that he schemed to sell or trade President Obama's former Senate seat and illegally pressured prospective campaign contributors. His brother is charged as a coconspirator and has pleaded not guilty. Patti Blagojevich has not been charged.
U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel ordered the prosecutor's so-called Santiago proffer released Wednesday at the request of The Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. The news organizations contended that public has an intense interest in allegations of corruption on the part of the state's highest official.
Rod Blagojevich issued a statement saying the document represented "nothing new."
"It's the same old false allegations and lies," he said. "I'm looking forward to trial so the truth comes out and everyone will see that I am innocent."
Prosecutors file such proffers to try to persuade judges to allow them to introduce testimony from coconspirators that otherwise would be ruled out.
Defense attorneys had objected to the document's release, saying it would paint an inaccurate and one-sided picture of their clients and would likely prejudice potential jurors at his trial, which is scheduled to begin June 3. But Zagel said there was no danger that it would be impossible to find a fair-minded jury once the trial got under way.
The proffer depicts the former governor as tired of his office and constantly seeking ways to increase his wealth.
According to the document, one of Blagojevich's ideas was to exchange the Senate seat for a job for his wife with the union-sponsored organization Change to Win.
"Hopefully you get paid decent," the proffer quotes Blagojevich as saying.
At another point, apparently speaking of the governor's office, he allegedly said: "I'd like to get the (expletive) outta here."
"The objective is to get a good gig," he's quoted as saying.
At another point, he is quoted as grumbling that his "upward trajectory" had stalled.
"Now is the time for me to put my (expletive) children and my wife first, for a change," he allegedly said while considering what to do about Obama's former Senate seat.
According to the document, Blagojevich in October 2008 received what he believed to be an offer of $1.5 million campaign contributions from representatives of a person prosecutors refer to as Senate Candidate A in return for Candidate A's appointment to the Senate seat.
A person close to the investigation identified Senate Candidate A as U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the information was being treated as confidential by the government since Jackson has not been accused of wrongdoing.
On Dec. 4, Blagojevich allegedly told his brother to tell a representative of Senate Candidate A that if the appointee were to go through "some of the promised fundraising needed to start occurring immediately." The document said Robert Blagojevich set up a meeting but that the governor canceled it the next day after the Tribune ran a story suggesting — correctly as it turned out — that Blagojevich's telephones were tapped by the FBI.
Rezko was convicted of money laundering, fraud and bribery in 2008. His sentencing has been postponed indefinitely and he is believed to be cooperating with prosecutors as they prepare for the Blagojevich trial.
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