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Tag: Chicago

Prosecution Expected to Rest in Blago Retrial: Blago May Testify

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Well, that was quick.

After just 2 1/2 weeks of testimony, the prosecution in the federal retrial of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to rest its case on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The first trial took 11 weeks, most of which was taken up by the prosecution presenting it case centering on bribery allegations and Blago’s alleged attempt to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Speculation continued this week as to whether the  ever-chatty Blago will testify on his own behalf, the Sun-Timengs reported.  He did not testify in the first trial in which the jury convicted him on only 1 of 24 counts, and that was for lying to the FBI.

The defense has indicated it might also call as witnesses Jesse Jackson Jr. and newly minted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

To read more click here.

Jesse Jackson Jr. Denies Scheme to Buy Senate Seat

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr./campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The retrial of Rod Blagojevich is putting more people than just the  chatty ex-governor on the defensive.

The Chicago Sun-Times on Monday reported that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) adamantly denied that he had fundraisers offer Blago about $1 million in campaign contributions in exchange for getting the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. He made his statement after attending inauguration ceremonies for Mayor Emanuel and the new city council.

“I’ve committed and participated in no such scheme. It’s been a thorough investigation. And I think the investigation has revealed that,” Jackson said, according to the Sun-Times.

Jackson said he had no idea why an Indian businessmen Rajinder Bedi made the offer to the Blagojevich camp, and insisted he did not act on his direction.

Last week, fund-raiser and onetime state worker Rajinder Bedi testified in trial that fundraising and the senate seat were discussed at a breakfast on Oct. 28, 2008 with Jackson and another fund-raiser, Raghu Nayak, the Sun-Times reported.

That same day, Bedi met with the Blagojevich camp and offered $1 million in exchange for the senate appointment, the Sun-Times reported.

Prosecution Plays FBI Tapes in Blago Retrial

Fed Prosecutors in Blago Trial Go For More Focused Case 2nd Time Around

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors, after stumbling the first time around, unveiled a blueprint Monday for what they hope is a new and and improved case against ex-Ill. Rod Blagojevich.

The Chicago Tribune reports that in opening statements the prosecution presented a “much slimmer, more focused version of the government’s corruption case.” The first jury complained the case was too confusing and ended up convicting Blago on only 1 or 24 counts.

This time around, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner honed in on the headline grabber in the case: accusations that Blago tried to shake down Barack Obama by getting him to give him a cabinet position. In exchange, Blago would appoint an Obama friend to the vacant Senate seat.

“He was going to shake down the man who was going to become president of the United States,” Niewoehner said in opening statements, according to the Tribune.

“And right there, the crime is complete,” said Niewoehner.

The Tribune reported that “Niewoehner presented a concise view of the case that boiled down to essentially five criminal episodes: the alleged Senate seat sale as well as alleged shakedowns of a road-building executive, a racetrack owner, a hospital official and Rahm Emanuel when he was a former U.S. representative and close political ally of Blagojevich’s.”

But the prosecution left out of the opening a part that confused jurors in the first trial: a complicated scheme in which Blagojevich plotted with convicted fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko to siphon cash from state deals.

Blagojevich’s lawyer Aaron Goldstein in opening statements said the case amounts to no harm, no foul, the Trib reported. He said. Blagojevich talked a lot on the wiretaps, but “what ended up happening?”

“Do you think they found a big bag of cash hidden somewhere?” he said. “No, they found nothing because, in fact, there is nothing.”

To read more click here.

Off-Duty Dep. Marshal Shoots Gun-Wielding Man in Chicago

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty deputy U.S. marshal shot and wounded a gun-wielding man on Chicago’s Northwest side on Friday night, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Trib reported that two off-duty deputy U.S. Marshals spotted a 20-year-old man with a gun chasing someone. They approached with their guns drawn and identified themselves, a Chicago Police spokesman said.

When the man turned around with the gun in hand, one of the deputy U.S. Marshals opened fire, striking the man in the upper thigh, the Trib reported. The man was in serious to critical condition over the weekend.

Feds Indict 4 in Mumbai Attacks Including 2 With Links to Pakistan Security

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sometimes friends aren’t always real friends.

The investigative website ProPublica reports that the feds in Chicago on Monday indicted four suspected masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Two of those folks have been linked to Pakistan’s security forces, who supposed to be helping out the U.S. in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

“The indictment filed Monday never mentions the Pakistani security forces or their alleged role in the attacks,” ProPublica wrote. “But it represents a major development in a secretive, diplomatically sensitive prosecution set for trial next month, because Pakistan is considered a close U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.”

To read full story click here.

It’s an Oprah World We Live in; Prospective Blago Juror Wants to Attend Taping of Oprah Show


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Let’s face it: There are few things in life more important than Oprah — at least in some circles.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a prospective juror in the trial of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said she didn’t want the trial to ruin her chance to attend a taping of the Oprah Show, which is in its final season. The final show will air May 25.

She said she has four tickets to attend the May 10 taping. The whole thing came up during the second day of jury selection on Monday.

The Sun-Times reported that U.S. District Judge James Zagel of Chicago said he could reschedule the trial that day, but added: “That seems a little over the top.”

“It’s the last year, judge,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said smiling, according to the Sun-Times.

Interestingly, the paper reported that the judge seemed open to a defense lawyer’s suggestion court be scheduled that day to accommodate the juror. No decision was made.

“Everybody here knows that this juror will survive” if she doesn’t make it to the show, Zagel said, according to the paper.

The paper reported that the juror is Hispanic, is a onetime domestic violence counselor at Mujeres Latinas En Accion, is a mother and a current member of AFSCME Local 106.

Blagojevich is on trial for the second time. In his first trial, he was convicted of 1 of 24 counts — for lying to the FBI. The jury deadlocked on the remaining counts.

Fed Judge Tosses Conviction of White Supremacist Who Posted Info About Jury Foreman

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The message is clear: Even hatemongers have Constitutional rights.

The Chicago Tribune reports that a federal judge has tossed out the conviction in Chicago of  white supremacist William White who posted personal  information on his website about a jury foreman who helped convict a fellow white supremacist in 2004. A jury found White had used the website to solicit an attack on the foreman.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of Milwaukee, who had been assigned to the trial because of local conflicts of interest, wrote in a ruling that prosecutors failed to prove during trial — even though the jury convicted after three hours of deliberation — that supremacist White’s postings on overthrow.com showed he wanted the foreman harmed, the Tribune reported.

She wrote that the posting was protected by the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment protects vehement, scathing and even offensive criticism of others, including individuals involved in the criminal justice system,” Adelman wrote, according to the Tribune. “Knowledge, suspicion or even hope that something might happen to Hoffman is not enough.”

Prosecutors charged that White had posted info in 2008 on his website about jury foreman Mark Hoffman, saying he was the  “gay Jewish anti-racist” juror who had helped convict Matthew Hale for the solicitation of the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, the Trib reported. White also included info about Hoffman including a color photo, home address, phone numbers and his cats name (Hoffman is not Jewish).

Prosecutors during trial pointed out that in 2005, White on his website called for the “assassination” of anyone involved in the Hale trial, the Trib reported.

White’s attorneys argued their client never directly solicited an attack on Hoffman, the Trib reported.

The Tribune reports that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago is considering an appeal.