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Blago Defense Shines, But With Jury Gone

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Blago Defense Shines, But With Jury Gone
Jack Higgins
Blago Defense Shines, But With Jury Gone

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The Rod Blagojevich defense may have scored their most effective strikes on a prosecution witness today.  But the jury didn't hear the arguments. 

 

With jurors out of the room, construction executive Gerald Krozel was questioned by defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein, in what is known as an "offer of proof", a dry run, if you will, of what Goldstein wanted to ask in the jury's presence. 

Krozel had testified that he felt pressure to raise money for Blagojevich, in exchange for approval of a big roadbuilding program which would benefit his industry. 

Out of presence of the jury, Krozel admitted that he had been "politically active" since 1982.  That was the year that he said he essentially received a crash course in the process from then-governor James Thompson. 

At the time, Krozel said his industry was asking Thompson to repave large sections of the Eisenhower Expressway in concrete, instead of the cheaper alternative, asphalt.   

"Thompson said, 'you need to get politically involved,'" Krozel said.  After that, he said he and his colleagues contributed to Thompson, and the paving project was approved. 

Speaking of the government's star witnesses in the various alleged shakedowns, Goldstein declared to the judge, "These are the same people who fundraise for other politicians.  The only difference here is, we have a man here on trial." 

The argument from the defense was clear: that nothing had happened in the Blagojevich case which had not happened for decades in Illinois. 

"They fundraise, and there is state action close to it.  Nine hundred times before, it doesn't seem to be a problem." 

The judge was unswayed, and the jury never heard the "business as usual" argument.

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