WBEZ | testify http://www.wbez.org/tags/testify Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Blagojevich relied on advisors http://www.wbez.org/story/blagojevich-relied-advisors-87256 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-31/Blagojevich Retrial_Robert Wildeboer_2011051315.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is scheduled to be back on the stand Wednesday.&nbsp; He's spent about 11 hours over three days testifying and he started addressing the so called senate seat allegations at the end of the day Tuesday.&nbsp; Those allegations include evidence that's arguably going to be the most difficult for Blagojevich to explain because he's heard on secretly recorded phone calls desperately seeking a high-paying job for himself or his wife.<br> <br> Blagojevich started his discussion of the senate seat by telling jurors that he talks too much.&nbsp; He also said that with big decisions he tried to get the perspectives of all his top advisors.&nbsp; He talked about each of his advisors, going into great detail on their resumes - even mentioning that one was valedictorian in high school.<br> <br> Blagojevich says he trusted his advisors and relied on them, suggesting that they should have stopped him if he was doing anything illegal.&nbsp; He also repeatedly said he relied on his general counsel in the governor's office for advice, once again suggesting that he didn't know he was doing anything wrong.</p></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2011 00:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/blagojevich-relied-advisors-87256 Blagojevich denies he used state action to force donations http://www.wbez.org/story/blagojevich-denies-he-used-state-action-force-donations-87173 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100817_cr_188617_Blag_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, testifying for a third day at his federal corruption trial, disputed prosecution claims that he tried to leverage state action for campaign donations.</p><p><strong>Race track bill</strong></p><p>Guided by his attorney, Aaron Goldstein, Blagojevich provided his defense to government charges that he tried to get campaign donations in 2008 by withholding his signature from a bill that would benefit the horse race track industry.</p><p>Prosecutors had played secretly-taped conversations between Blagojevich and his former chief of staff, Lon Monk, who was working as a lobbyist for the industry. The government alleges Blagojevich and Monk were trying to squeeze money from the racetrack-owning Johnston family in exchange for signing the legislation.</p><p>In his testimony Tuesday, Blagojevich said he had a couple reasons - entirely legal ones - for withholding his signature on the bill. First, he said he wanted to consider the legislation as part of his broader plan to use his amendatory veto power, what he called his “Rewrite to do right campaign.”</p><p>Second, Blagojevich said he was nervous that he would sign the bill around the same time that a campaign donation from the Johnstons would arrive. He said he believed the donation was “imminent” based on his conversations with Monk, and didn’t want there to be a perception that he signed the bill because of the money. He noted he'd been "stung" by a similar allegation in the past.</p><p><strong>Tollway construction</strong></p><p>Also Tuesday, Blagojevich addressed accusations that he tried to shake down road construction bigwig Gerald Krozel, by holding back approval for a major tollway project. The ex-governor, in his testimony, sought to provide another reason for his reluctance to move forward with expansion: that he was trying to get the legislature to approve with a much larger statewide construction plan, known as the capital bill.</p><p>The defense played a&nbsp; secretly recorded conversation between Blagojevich and his chief of staff at the time, John Harris. In it, they talked about a request from then-DuPage County Board Chair Bob Schillerstrom to include a western access road to O’Hare Airport in the tollway plan. Blagojevich scoffed at the request, as he wanted Schillerstrom to use his political heft to pressure House Speaker Mike Madigan to call for a vote on the larger capital bill.</p><p>That recording included several expletives from Blagojevich, which the ex-governor addressed on the stand.</p><p>"You had to pick one of me swearing, eh?” he asked his attorney. Then, to the jury, “I’m sorry again about that language.”</p><p>The former governor also discussed a meeting he had with Krozel at his campaign offices. Krozel testified that at this meeting he felt Blagojevich was linking campaign donations and the expanded tollway plan, which would provide obvious benefits to Krozel's industry.</p><p>Blagojevich acknowledged both topics came up at the meeting. He said he talked to Krozel about a new ethics law, which restricted political donations from state contractors beginning on January 1, 2009.</p><p>“The good news for you and bad news for me is you can’t contribute money to me anymore,” Blagojevich recalled telling Krozel. “This is your last hurrah.”</p><p>Blagojevich denied threatening or demanding that Krozel fundraise for him. He said the construction executive told him he wanted to help.</p><p>Blagojevich’s team has yet to address the most headline-grabbing allegations against their client. He is accused of trying to personally profit from his power to fill the U.S. Senate seat that President Barack Obama vacated in late 2008.</p><p><strong>Children's hospital</strong></p><p>Blagojevich testifed Tuesday that “whenever a baseball manager calls me…I call them back.” Such was the case when former Cubs manager Dusty Baker called Blagojevich in 2008 to ask him to help out Children's Memorial Hospital. The hospital's executive ended up asking Blagojevich to push through a Medicaid reimbursement rate increase for pediatricians.</p><p>Budget times were tight, but Blagojevich said he agreed. The governor said he told his deputy governor, Bob Greenlee, to get it done. He said Greenlee eventually told him he'd found the money to make it happen, effective after January 1, 2009.</p><p>Prosecutors allege Blagojevich was trying to get fundraising help from Patrick Magoon, and actually ordered the rate increase be put on hold when Magoon resisted. Blagojevich dismissed that claim, noting that he thought the rate increase was set. “My state of mind was it was done," he testified.</p><p>Blagojevich says the hospital was "a personal place" for him because a cousin died there in the 1960s.</p><p><strong>Blagojevich's chattiness </strong></p><p>During the former governor's first day on the stand at his corruption retrial, Judge James Zagel let Blagojevich tell rambling stories about his childhood and interests.</p><p>But now that testimony has turned to allegations against him, Zagel, prosecutors and even his own attorney are trying to rein him in.</p><p>Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein is cutting Blagojevich off when answers get too long, and prosecutors objected nearly 40 times Tuesday. Zagel says he understands Blagojevich's penchant for long stories because he has "the same bad habit."</p><p>A sheepish Blagojevich responded to the judge, "Can I say great minds think alike?"</p><p>Zagel raised his eyebrows as he settled back into his chair.</p><p><strong>Blagojevich’s binder blunder</strong></p><p>Shortly after Blagojevich began testifying Tuesday morning, the judge halted the proceedings and sent the jury out of the room because the ex-governor’s microphone kept going on-and-off. Court staff soon discovered the problem: Blagojevich’s binder, containing transcripts of wiretaps, “was resting on the on-and-off switch.”</p><p>“You got to watch that binder, Rod,” Goldstein told his client after the jury returned.</p><p>“Evidently it was my fault,” replied Blagojevich.</p><p><strong>Past conviction</strong></p><p>Blagojevich has denied all wrongdoing since his arrest on December 9, 2008. Less than two months later, he was impeached and removed from office by the Illinois General Assembly. Since then, he’s waged a very public campaign, declaring his innocence at every turn. He hosted a radio show on a local station, appeared in <em>Celebrity Apprentice</em> and acted as a pitchman for pistachios.</p><p>Blagojevich faces 20 federal charges, including wire fraud, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery. This is the ex-governor’s second trial, after a different jury last summer deadlocked on all but one count. It found him guilty of lying to federal investigators, a charge that carries a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.</p><p>Goldstein briefly asked Blagojevich about that conviction on Tuesday. The ex-governor acknowledged he was found guilty, and said Judge James Zagel is responsible for sentencing him. Goldstein then told Blagojevich he would move on to another subject, to which the defendant replied, "Please do."</p><p><strong>Making faces</strong></p><p>When the jury was out of the courtroom on a break, Blagojevich attorney Lauren Kaesberg told Judge Zagel that she has witnessed prosecutors making faces and engaging in "animated discussion" that jurors were noticing.</p><p>Prosecutor Reid Schar denied this, and Zagel said he had not noticed it.</p><p>The government made a similar complaint about Blagojevich during the first trial.</p><p>There were only 17 jurors listening to testimony today, down one from the standard of 18. It is not uncommon for one or two jurors to withdraw during a trial. It can sometime happen for health or personal reasons.</p><p><em>WBEZ's </em><em>Andrew Gill, </em><em>Sam Hudzik and Robert Wildeboer contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Tue, 31 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/blagojevich-denies-he-used-state-action-force-donations-87173 Blagojevich denies wrongdoing in often meandering testimony http://www.wbez.org/story/blagojevich-takes-stand-87048 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-26/Blagojevichhomestatement_Getty_ScottOlson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 6:16 p.m.</em></p><p>Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told jurors all about his life and blue collar roots while testifying at his corruption retrial in Chicago on Thursday. Blagojevich is expected to return to the stand on Friday morning.</p><p>Introducing himself to jurors, he said, "I used to be your governor" and "I'm here today to tell you the truth."</p><p>The testimony early in the day was mostly autobiographical. In the afternoon, Blagojevich made specific references to comments made, and schemes alleged, by previous witnesses.</p><p><strong>Working class, through and through</strong></p><p>Blagojevich started by talking about his upbringing in a working-class Chicago neighborhood. He spoke in a low voice and remembered his first hit in little league baseball. Jurors watched him intently.</p><p>Blagojevich described his first jobs as a shoeshine boy and then working in a packing company. He talked about his father leaving home to work on the Alaskan pipeline. Blagojevich said he also worked on the pipeline, washing pots and pans.</p><p>Blagojevich's voice broke when he spoke about his deceased parents. He later choked up when he began to tell the story of how he met his wife, Patti. That prompted Judge James Zagel to send the jury out of the room, and call for a lunch break.</p><p><strong>College and law school</strong></p><p>Earlier, Blagojevich addressed his days as an undergrad at Northwestern University. He told jurors that he often felt inferior compared to other students. But he said he got good grades, and was a history buff.</p><p>"I had a man crush on Alexander Hamilton," Blagojevich said.</p><p>In talking about Winston Churchill and how leaders made decisions, the ex-governor offered a preview of his defense to the corruption charges he faces, some of which are based off secretly taped phone calls with his aides.</p><p>Blagojevich said, like Churchill, he believes in "full discussion," that leaders "should be free" to bounce ideas off advisers, to "end up in the right place."</p><p>Later, talking about law school, Blagojevich said he applied to a number of top schools, including Harvard University. The rejection letter, he said, "came back pretty quick." Blagojevich eventually went to Pepperdine University in California. His first year, he said, was "almost catastrophic," because he wanted to read history books instead of law books.</p><p><strong>A former friend</strong></p><p>Blagojevich attorney Aaron Goldstein asked him about his friendship with Lon Monk. Monk is a former Blagojevich aide who testified against him in exchange for a lighter sentence for himself.</p><p>Blagojevich said he met Monk while studying abroad in England during law school, and it developed into "a lifelong, very close friendship."</p><p>He talked about how different his upbringing and family were Monk's, whose father was a successful California obstetrician and gynecologist. Blagojevich said he "became very close" with Monk's family. He said they had a "beautiful house...with peacocks in the back yard."</p><p>"I love Lon Monk," Blagojevich said of his once-close friend, who he said read the 23rd Psalm at his wedding with Patti. Asked if he trusted Monk, the ex-governor said, "Absolutely. Infinitely."</p><p>Monk, earlier in the trail, testified that Blagojevich was present during meetings in which the governor's inner circle discussed ways to make personal money off of state government. On the stand Thursday, Blagojevich said those conversations never occurred.</p><p><strong>Fast Eddie</strong></p><p>The ex-governor talked about how he worked as a paralegal for Ed Vrdolyak, at the time a lawyer and Chicago alderman.</p><p>"I didn't do a lot of law," Blagojevich said, noting that his job consisted of doing campaign work for, among others, then-Mayor Jane Byrne, picking up cheesecakes for the alderman's driver and "deliver[ing] envelopes."</p><p>Blagojevich said Vrdolyak later reneged on a promise to hire him, and again on a promise to get him a job with the Cook County State's Attorney's office. He was hired anyway, working in the office while Richard M. Daley was state's attorney.</p><p>"While [Daley] was my boss, I never saw him," said Blagojevich. He talked about his work in the traffic division, and later on domestic violence cases.</p><p>No doubt in an effort to make sure the jury knew he was not professionally familiar with the laws he is accused of breaking, Blagojevich attorney Aaron Goldstein asked the ex-governor a series of questions about his struggles to pass the bar exam, and his experience in private practice. Blagojevich testified that he never worked on any federal criminal case.</p><p><strong>Political start</strong></p><p>Blagojevich also testified about his early days in politics and his early days with Patti, stories that are intertwined. He said he met Patty at a fundraiser for her father, Ald. Dick Mell, in 1988. "I fell in love with Patti not long after that," he said, explaining that he bought her a $5,000 engagement ring.</p><p>Blagojevich said he was also involved in Mell's precinct organization, working to help elect Daley as mayor in 1989. And when Mell needed a candidate for state representative, he turned to his new son-in-law.</p><p>"You interested in running, Blagojevich?" the ex-governor recalled Mell asking him. "You're probably going to lose."</p><p>He won, though, and four years later ascended to Congress, reclaiming for Democrats a seat lost by Dan Rostenkowski.</p><p>"[Rostenkowski] had some troubles, not unlike me," Blagojevich testified, referring to the federal corruption charges that led to Rostenkowski's defeat, and eventual imprisonment.</p><p><strong>Cursing apology</strong></p><p>Blagojevich's attorney cited his tendency for profanity. When you hear the curses and swear words, "it makes you wince," Blagojevich said to the jurors. "I'm an F-ing jerk and I apologize."</p><p>Once his own attorneys are done questioning him, Blagojevich is sure to face blistering cross-examination from the government. Prosecutors are likely to replay FBI wiretaps that captured his blunt talk.</p><p><strong>Jackson story denial</strong></p><p>On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., was called to the stand by the defense. Under cross examination by prosecutors, Jackson told a story about how Blagojevich snubbed Jackson's wife, who wanted a job leading the lottery. In a later meeting with the governor, Jackson said, Blagojevich referred to the job, pointed in an Elvis-like way and said, "You should have given me that $25,000."</p><p>Blagojevich told jurors Thursday, "I don't remember anything remotely like that." He said he recalls giving the lottery job to a candidate pushed for by Jackson's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The former governor talked fondly of a trip he made, as a congressman, with Rev. Jackson, to Serbia to try to free American prisoners.</p><p><strong>The Emanuels</strong></p><p>Blagojevich also denied attempting to hold up a state grant intended to build an athletic field for a school located in the congressional district of then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel. Prosecutors have alleged Blagojevich did just that, while telling staff it was because he wanted Emanuel or his Hollywood agent brother Ari to host a fundraiser for him.</p><p>Blagojevich acknowledged that he did try to get the Emanuels to host such a fundraiser, but was told they were too busy helping congressional candidates. Entirely separately, he said, he later asked staff to look into the state grant, because he did not recall authorizing it. But he said he ultimately ordered that the school's construction bills be paid as they came in. Blagojevich said this was because he was "super careful" about taxpayer dollars.</p><p>The former governor testified that he never told Emanuel that the state grant was contingent on the fundraising help, a statement backed up by Emanuel in testimony on Wednesday.</p><p><strong>Up next</strong></p><p>The jury was sent home Thursday at about 4:30 p.m. The Blagojevich trial is usually not in session on Fridays, but Zagel is making an exception this week. Jurors are due back on Friday morning at 9:30, but will only stay until about noon.</p></p> Fri, 27 May 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/blagojevich-takes-stand-87048 A new count against Blagojevich http://www.wbez.org/story/new-count-against-blagojevich-87047 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-25/P1000745.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A spokesman for Rod Blagojevich says the former governor plans to testify in his corruption retrial.&nbsp; However Blagojevich's attorneys aren't yet saying for sure one way or the other.&nbsp; If he does testify it comes on the heels of a terrible day in court for the defense Wednesday.<br> <br> They called Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the stand.&nbsp; He testified for only four minutes.<br> <br> They also called Jesse Jackson Jr. who said he never offered Blagojevich money in return for being appointed to Barack Obama's old senate seat.<br> <br> But under cross examination by prosecutors, Jackson offered up a whole new allegation of extortion.&nbsp; He says Blagojevich asked for a $25,000 dollar campaign contribution but Jackson didn't pay.&nbsp; Later Jackson's wife Sandi applied for but was denied a job in the Blagojevich administration.&nbsp; At a subsequent meeting Jackson says the governor referred to the job and snapped his fingers and pointed in an Elvis like way and said quote, "you should have given me that $25,000."</p><p>Jurors wouldn't have heard this story if Blagojevich's lawyers hadn't called Jackson to the stand.&nbsp; The anedote is like an additioinal criminal count against the former governor compliments of his own defense team.</p></p> Fri, 27 May 2011 00:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-count-against-blagojevich-87047 Testifying could mean more prison time for Blagojevich http://www.wbez.org/story/testifying-could-mean-more-prison-time-blagojevich-86885 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-22/P1000874.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Attorneys are preparing to put on a defense later this week for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.&nbsp; One of the big questions surrounding their defense is whether they'll put the former governor on the stand. But if Blagojevich takes the stand and fails to convince jurors that he's innocent, there's a chance his testimony could earn him more time in prison.<br> <br> Former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer explains says that's because if he's convicted his testimony could be considered perjury. "You have the right to remain silent. You don't have to put on a case.&nbsp; You don't have to do anything. But if you take the stand and you commit perjury, which one could say the jury found if they convicted you, then that is considered obstruction of justice, it's an enhancement to the sentencing in the federal guidelines," Cramer said.<br> <br> Cramer says that could add a year or more to a sentence. He estimates that because of Blagojevich's first trial, the governor is already facing a year or two in prison on his conviction of lying to the FBI. He estimates that if Blagojevich is convicted on a few of the 20 counts in this retrial, he could be facing between seven and 10 years in prison.<br> <br> <em>Music Button: You're So Desirable (Sunday People) from the CD Billie Holiday Remixed and Remastered, (Sony Legacy) </em></p></p> Mon, 23 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/testifying-could-mean-more-prison-time-blagojevich-86885